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Being the Adventures of Sir Francis 

Austen, G.C.B., Admiral of the Fleet 

and Rear-Admiral Charles 

Austen By J. H. Hubback 

and Edith C. Hubback 

London: John Lane 
The Bodley Head, Vtgo Street, TV. 
New York: 'John Lane Company 

Printed by Ballantyne <5r» Co. Limited 
Tavistock Street, London 

TO M. P. H. 




Perhaps some apology may be expected on behalf 
of a book about Jane Austen, having regard to 
the number which have already been put before 
the public in past years. My own membership of 
the family is my excuse for printing a book which 
contains little original matter, and which might be 
described as '*a thing of shreds and patches," if 
that phrase were not already over-worked. To 
me it seems improbable that others will take a 
wholly adverse view of what is so much inwoven 
with all the traditions of my life. When I recol- 
lect my childhood, spent chiefly in the house of 
my grandfather, Sir Francis, and all the interests 
which accompanied those early days, I find myself 
once more amongst those deep and tender dis- 
tances. Surrounded by reminiscences of the 
opening years of the century, the Admiral always 
cherished the most affectionate remembrance of 
the sister who had so soon passed away, leaving 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

those six precious volumes to be a store of house- 
hold words among the family. 

How often I call to mind some question or 
answer, expressed quite naturally in terms of the 
novels ; sometimes even a conversation would be 
carried on entirely appropriate to the matter under 
discussion, but the actual phrases were **Aunt 
Jane's." So well, too, do I recollect the sad news 
of the death of Admiral Charles Austen, after the 
capture, under his command, of Martaban and 
Rangoon, and while he was leading his squadron 
to further successes, fifty-six years having elapsed 
since his first sea-fight. 

My daughter and I have made free use of the 
Letters of Jane Austen^ published in 1884, by 
the late Lord Brabourne, and wish to acknowledge 
with gratitude the kind permission to quote these 
letters, given to us by their present possessor. In 
a letter of 18 13, she speaks of two nephews who 
" amuse themselves very comfortably in the even- 
ing by netting ; they are each about a rabbit-net, 
and sit as deedily to it, side by side, as any two 
Uncle Franks could do." In his octogenarian 
days Sir Francis was still much interested in this 
same occupation of netting, to protect his Morello 



cherries or currants. It was, in fact, only laid 
aside long after his grandsons had been taught to 
carry it on. 

My most hearty thanks are also due to my 
cousins, who have helped to provide materials for 
our work ; to Miss M. L. Austen for the loan of 
miniatures and silhouettes ; to Miss Jane Austen 
for various letters and for illustrations ; to Com- 
mander E. L. Austen for access to logs, and to 
official and other letters in large numbers ; also 
to Miss Mary Austen for the picture of the 
PeferelinaLCtiony and to Mrs. Herbert Austen, and 
Captain and Mrs. Willan for excellent portraits of 
the Admirals, and to all these, and other members 
of the family, for much encouragement in our 

July 1905, 


















XV. A LETTER FROM JANE . . ^ . . . . 22/ 




INDEX 287 



Vice- Admiral Sir Francis Austen, K.C.B. {From a painting 
in the possession of Mrs. Herbert A usten) . . frontispiece 

The Reverend George Austen, Rector of Steventon {From 

a miniature in the possession of Miss M. L. Austen) , . 8 

Action between the English frigate Unicorn and the French 
frigate La Tribune^ June 8, 1796 {From a painting in 
the possession of Captain Willan, R.N., and Mrs. Willan). 
By kind permission of Miss Hill 22 

Francis Austen as Lieutenant {From a miniature) . . 44 

Sloop of War and Frigate {From a pencil sketch by Captain 

Herbert Austen, R.N.) 64 

Peterel in action with the French brig La Ligurienne after 
driving two others on the rocks near Marseilles, on 
March 21, 1800 {From a sketch by Captain Herbert 
Austen^ R.N.,in the possession of Miss Mary Austen) . 84 

Topaz Crosses given to Cassandra and Jane by Charles 

Austen {In the possession of Miss Jane Austen) . . 92 

The Way to Church from Portsdown Lodge {From a 

pencil sketch by Catherine A . Austen) . . . .108 

Mrs. Austen {From a silhouette in the possession of Miss 

M. L. Austen) 124 

Order of Battle and of Sailing, signed Nelson. and Bront6, 

dated March 26, 1805 132 


List of Illustrations 


Order of Battle and of Sailing, signed Nelson and Bronte, 

dated June 5, 1805 138 

Captain Francis William Austen {From a miniature of 
1806, in the possession of Miss M. L. Austen. The Order 
of the C.B. has been painted in at a later date, probably 
when conferred in iSi^) 156 

" Vice-Admiral Sir Francis Austen, K.C.B.'s writing-desk " 
{From a caricature sketch by his daughter Cassandra, 
about 1840) 174 

Cassandra Austen {From a silhouette in the possession of 

Miss M. L. Austen) 184 

Portchester Castle. The French prisoners were interned 
in the neighbouring buildings after the Battle of 
Vimiera {From a sketch hy Captain Herbert Austen ^ R.N.) 200 

Captain Charles Austen {From a painting of 1809, in the 

possession of Miss Jane Austen) 2 10 

Jane Austen, from a sketch by her sister Cassandra {In 

the possession of Miss jfane Austen) 226 

Mrs. Charles Austen, nee Fanny Palmer, daughter of the 
Attorney-General of Bermuda {From a painting in the 
possession of Miss J afte Austen) 252 

Captain Charles Austen, C.B. {From a painting in the 

possession of Captain Willan, R.N., and Mrs. Willan) . 266 

Jane Austen's work-box, with her last piece of work {In 

the possession of Miss Jane Austen) .... 270 

Memorandum, dated May 12, 1838, signed by Charles 

Austen on taking command of the Bellerophon , . 274 

Rear- Admiral Charles Austen, C.B. {From a miniature 
painted at Malta in 1846, in the possession of Miss Jane 
Austen) 278 

Sir Francis Austen, G.C.B., Admiral of the Fleet, at the 

age of ninety 284 




No one can read Jane Austen's novels, her life, or 
her letters, without feeling that to her the ties 
of family were stronger and more engrossing than 
any others. 

Among the numbers of men and women who 
cheerfully sacrifice the claims of their family in 
order that they may be free to confer somewhat 
doubtful benefits on society, it is refreshing to find 
one who is the object of much love and gratitude 
from countless unknown readers, and who yet 
would have been the first to laugh at the notion 
that her writing was of more importance than her 
thought for her brothers and sister, or the various 
home duties which fell to her share. It is this 
sweetness and wholesomeness of thought, this 
clear conviction that her ** mission '* was to do her 
duty, that gives her books and letters their peculiar 
quality. Her theory of life is clear. Whatever 
troubles befall, people must go on doing their 
work and making the best of it ; and we are not 

c/;:/ Jai^.^'i^uken'^ Sailor Brothers 

allowed to feel respect, or even overmuch sym- 
pathy, for the characters In the novels who cannot 
bear this test. There is a matter-of-courseness 
about this view which, combined with all that we 
know of the other members of the family, gives 
one the idea that the children at Steventon had a 
strict bringing up. This, in fact, was the case, 
and a very rich reward was the result. In a family 
of seven all turned out well, two rose to the top of 
their profession, and one was — Jane Austen. 

The fact of her intense devotion to her family 
could not but influence her writing. She loved 
them all so well that she could not help thinking 
of them even in the midst of her work ; and the 
more we know of her surroundings, and the lives 
of those she loved, the more we understand of the 
small joyous touches in her books. She was far 
too good an artist, as well as too reticent in nature, 
to take whole characters from life ; but small cha- 
racteristics and failings, dwelt on with humorous 
partiality, can often be traced back to the natures of 
those she loved. Mary Crawford's brilliant letters 
to Fanny Price remind one of Cassandra, who 
was the ** finest comic writer of the present age." 
Charles' impetuous disposition is exaggerated 
in BIngley, who says, "Whatever I do is done 
in a hurry," a remark which is severely reproved 
by Darcy (and not improbably by Francis Austen), 
as an ** indirect boast." Francis himself comes in 

Brothers and Sisters 

for his share of teasing on the opposite point of 
his extreme neatness, precision, and accuracy. 
" They are so neat and careful in all their ways," 
says Mrs. Clay, in *' Persuasion," of the naval pro- 
fession in general ; and nothing could be more 
characteristic of Francis Austen and some of his 
descendants than the overpowering accuracy with 
which Edmund Bertram corrects Mary Crawford's 
hasty estimate of the distance in the wood. 

** * I am really not tired, which I almost wonder 
at ; for we must have walked at least a mile in this 
wood. Do not you think we have ? ' 

" * Not half a mile,' was his sturdy answer ; for 
he was not yet so much in love as to measure dis- 
tance, or reckon time, with feminine lawlessness. 

•* * Oh, you do not consider how much we have 
wound about. We have taken such a very serpen- 
tine course, and the wood itself must be half a mile 
long in a straight line, for we have never seen the 
end of it yet since we left the first great path.' 

** * But if you remember, before we left that first 
great path we saw directly to the end of it. We 
looked down the whole vista, and saw it closed by 
iron gates, and it could not have been more than 
a furlong in length.' 

*' * Oh, I know nothing of your furlongs, but I 
am sure it is a very long wood ; and that we 
have been winding in and out ever since we 
came into it ; and therefore when I say that 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

we have walked a mile in it I must speak within 

** * We have been exactly a quarter of an hour 
here,' said Edmund, taking out his watch. * Do 
you think we are walking four miles an hour ? ' 

***Oh, do not attack me with your watch. A 
watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be 
dictated to by a watch.' 

" A few steps farther brought them out at the 
bottom of the very walk they had been talking of. 

** * Now, Miss Crawford, if you will look up the 
walk, you will convince yourself that it cannot be 
half a mile long, or half half a mile.' 

** * It is an immense distance,' said she ; * I see 
that with a glance.' 

** * He still reasoned with her, but in vain. She 
would not calculate, she would not compare. 
She would only smile and assert. The greatest 
degree of rational consistency could not have 
been more engaging, and they talked with mutual 
satisfaction.' " 

It is in ** Mansfield Park" and in ** Persuasion" 
that the influence of her two sailor brothers, Francis 
and Charles, on Jane Austen's work can be most 
easily traced. Unlike the majority of writers of 
all time, from Shakespeare with his *' Seacoast of 
Bohemia " down to the author of a penny dreadful, 
Jane Austen never touched, even lightly, on a 
subject unless she had a real knowledge of its 


Brothers and Sisters 

details. Her pictures of the life of a country 
gentleman and of clergymen are accurate, if not 
always sympathetic. Perhaps it was all too near 
her own experience to have the charm of romance, 
but concerning sailors she is romantic. Their very 
faults are lovable in her eyes, and their lives 
packed with interest. When Admiral Croft, Cap- 
tain Wentworth, or William Price appears on the 
scene, the other characters immediately take on a 
merely subsidiary interest, and this prominence is 
always that given by appreciation. The distinc- 
tion awarded to Mr. Collins or Mrs. Elton, as the 
chief object of ridicule, is of a different nature. 
The only instance she cared to give us of a sailor 
who is not to be admired is Mary Crawford's 
uncle, the Admiral, and even he is allowed to earn 
our esteem by disinterested kindness to William 

No doubt some of this enthusiasm was due to 
the spirit of the times, when, as Edward Ferrars 
says, ** The navy had fashion on its side " ; but 
that sisterly partiality was a stronger element there 
can be no question. Her place in the family was 
between these two brothers, Francis just a year 
older, and Charles some four years younger. Much 
has been said about her fondness for ** pairs of 
sisters " in her novels, but no less striking are the 
** brother and sister " friendships which are an 
important factor in four out of her six books. The 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

love of Darcy for his sister Georgina perhaps 
suggests the intimacy between James Austen and 
Jane, where the difference in their ages of ten 
years, their common love of books, the advice and 
encouragement that the elder brother was able to 
give his sister over her reading, are all points of 
resemblance. The equal terms of the affection of 
Francis and Jane are of another type. 

Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor, Mrs. Croft 
and Frederick Wentworth, give us good instances 
of firm friendships. In the case of the Tilneys, 
confidences are exchanged with ease and freedom ; 
but in ** Persuasion,*' the feeling in this respect, as in 
all others, is more delicate, and only in the chapter 
which Jane Austen afterwards cancelled can we 
see the quickness of Mrs. Croft's perceptions where 
her brother was concerned. For so long as she 
supposes him to be on the brink of marrying 
Louisa Musgrove, sympathy is no doubt somewhat 
difficult to force, but '' prompt welcome " is given 
to Anne as Captain Wentworth's chosen wife ; and 
with some knowledge of Mrs. Croft we know that 
the ** particularly friendly manner " hid a warmth 
of feeling which would fully satisfy even Frede- 
rick's notions of the love which Anne deserved. 
But it is in ** Mansfield Park " that '' brothers and 
sisters " play the strongest part. No one can pos- 
sibly doubt the very lively affection of Mary and 
Henry Crawford. Even when complaining of the 


Brothers and Sisters 

shortness of his letters, she says that Henry is 
** exactly what a brother should be, loves me, 
consults me, confides in me, and will talk to me 
by the hour together " — and the scene later on, 
where he tells of his devotion to Fanny Price, is 
as pretty an account of such a confidence as can 
be well imagined, where the worldliness of each 
is almost lost in the happiness of disinterested 
love, which both are feeling. 

When Jane Austen comes to describing Fanny's 
love for her brother William, her tenderness and 
her humour are in perfect accord. From the 
reality of the feelings over his arrival and promo- 
tion, to the quiet hit at the enthusiasm which his 
deserted chair and cold pork bones might be sup- 
posed to arouse in Fanny's heart after their early 
breakfast, when he was off to London, the picture 
of sisterly love is perfect. We are told, too, that 
there was ** an affection on his side as warm as her 
own, and much less encumbered by refinement 
and self-distrust. She was the first object of his 
love, but it was a love which his stronger spirits 
and bolder temper made it as natural for him to 
express as to feel." So far this describes the love 
of William and Fanny, but a few lines further on 
comes a passage which has the ring of personal 
experience. In reading it, it is impossible not to 
picture a time which was always of great import- 
ance in the life at Steventon — the return on leave 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

for a few weeks or a few months of one or other 
of the sailor brothers, and all the walks and talks 
which filled up the pleasant days. ** On the morrow 
they were walking about together with true enjoy- 
ment, and every succeeding morrow renewed the 
tHe-d.-tete, Fanny had never known so much feli- 
city in her life as in this unchecked, equal, fearless 
intercourse with the brother and friend, who was 
opening all his heart to her, telling her all his 
hopes and fears, plans and solicitudes respecting 
that long thought of, dearly earned, and justly 
valued blessing of promotion — who was interested 
in all the comforts and all the little hardships of 
her home — and with whom (perhaps the dearest 
indulgence of the whole) all the evil and good of 
their earliest years could be gone over again, and 
every former united pain and pleasure retraced 
with the fondest recollection." 

Some slight record of the childhood of the 
Steventon family has been left to us. Most of the 
known facts have already been told by admirers of 
Jane Austen, but some extracts from an account 
written by Catherine Austen in the lifetime of 
her father, Sir Francis Austen, will at least 
have the merit of accuracy, for he would cer- 
tainly have been merciless to even the simplest 

The father, Mr. George Austen, was the rector 
of Steventon. He was known in his young days, 


IN 1763 

c • 

• c c 

c », r 

€ c c c 

Brothers and Sisters 

before his marriage, as ** the handsome tutor," and 
he transmitted his good looks to at least three of 
his sons ; Henry, Francis, and Charles were all 
exceptionally handsome men. Indeed, neither wit 
nor good looks were deficient in the Steventon 
family. Probably much of Jane's simplicity about 
her writing arose from the fact that she saw nothing 
in it to be conceited about, being perfectly con- 
vinced that any of the others, with her leisure and 
inclination, could have done just as well. Her 
father had a gentleness of disposition combined 
with a firmness of principle which had great 
effect in forming the characters of his family. The 
mother's maiden name was Cassandra Leigh. She 
was very lively and active, and strict with her 
children. It is not difficult to see whence Francis 
derived his ideas of discipline, or Jane her un- 
swerving devotion to duty. 

The elder members of the family were born at 
Deane, which was Mr. Austen's first living, but in 
1 77 1 they moved to Steventon, where they lived 
for nearly thirty years. 

The account of the house given by Catherine 
Austen shows the simplicity of the life. 

** The parsonage consisted of three rooms in 
front on the ground floor, the best parlour, the 
common parlour, and the kitchen ; behind there 
were Mr. Austen's study, the back kitchen and 
the stairs ; above them were seven bedrooms and 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

three attics. The rooms were low-pitched but 
not otherwise bad, and compared with the usual 
style of such buildings it might be considered a 
very good house." An eulogy follows on the 
plainness and quietness of the family life — a 
characteristic specially due to the mother's in- 

''That she had no taste for expensive show or 
finery, may be inferred from the fact being on 
record that for two years she actually never had a 
gown to wear. It was a prevalent custom for 
ladies to wear cloth habits, and she having one of 
red cloth found any other dress unnecessary. 
Imagine a beneficed clergyman's wife in these 
days contenting herself with such a costume for 
two years! But the fact illustrates the retired 
style of living that contented her." Even when 
she did find it necessary to provide herself with 
some other costume, the riding-habit was made to 
serve another useful purpose, for it was cut up 
into a first cloth suit for little Francis. 

The following account of their upbringing closes 
this slight record : 

" There is nothing in which modern manners 
differ much more from those of a century back 
than in the system pursued with regard to children. 
They were kept in the nursery, out of the way not 
only of visitors but of their parents ; they were 
trusted to hired attendants ; they were allowed a 


Brothers and Sisters 

great deal of air and exercise, were kept on plain 
food, forced to give way to the comfort of others, 
accustomed to be overlooked, slightly regarded, 
considered of trifling importance. No well- 
stocked libraries of varied lore to cheat them into 
learning awaited them ; no scientific toys, no 
philosophic amusements enlarged their minds and 
wearied their attention." One wonders what 
would have been the verdict of this writer of fifty 
years ago on education in 1905. She goes on to 
tell us of the particular system pursued with the 
boys in order to harden them for their future work 
in life. It was not considered either necessary or 
agreeable for a woman to be very strong. ** Little 
Francis was at the age of ten months removed 
from the parsonage to a cottage in the village, 
and placed under the care of a worthy couple, 
whose simple style of living, homely dwelling, and 
out-of-door habits (for in the country the poor 
seldom close the door by day, except in bad 
weather), must have been very different from the 
heated nurseries and constrained existence of the 
clean, white-frocked little gentlemen who are now 
growing up around us. Across the brick floor of 
a cottage Francis learnt to walk, and perhaps it 
was here that he received the foundation of the 
excellent constitution which was so remarkable in 
after years. It must not, however, be supposed 
that he was neglected by his parents ; he was 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

constantly visited by them both, and often taken 
to the parsonage." 

One cannot but admire the fortitude of parents 
who would forego the pleasure of seeing their 
children learn to walk and satisfy themselves with 
daily visits, for the sake of a plan of education of 
which the risks cannot have been otherwise than 

The rough-and-tumble life which followed must 
have thoroughly suited the taste of any enterprising 
boy, and given him an independence of spirit, and 
a habit of making his own plans, which would 
be exactly what was wanted in the Navy of 
those days, when a man of twenty-five might 
be commander of a vessel manned by discon- 
tented, almost mutinous, sailors, with the chance 
of an enemy's ship appearing at any time on 
the horizon. 

Riding about the country after the hounds 
began for Francis at the age of seven ; and, 
from what we hear of Catherine Morland's 
childhood, we feel sure that Jane would not 
always have been contented to be left behind. 

Catherine, at the age of ten, was ''noisy and 
wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved 
nothing so well in the world as rolling down the 
green slope at the back of the house." When she 
was fourteen, we are told that she ''preferred 
cricket, base-ball, riding on horseback, and 


Brothers and Sisters 

running about the country, to books — or, at 
least, books of information — for, provided that 
nothing like useful knowledge could be gained 
from them, provided they were all story and no 
reflection, she had never any objection to books 
at all ! " 

This, if not an accurate picture of the tastes 
of the children at Steventon, at least shows 
the sort of amusements which boys and girls 
brought up in a country parsonage had at their 

Perhaps it was of some such recollections that 
Jane Austen was thinking when she praised that 
common tie of childish remembrances. *'An 
advantage this, a strengthener of love, in which 
even the conjugal tie is beneath the fraternal. 
Children of the same family, the same blood, with 
the same first association and habits, have some 
means of enjoyment in their power which no sub- 
sequent connection can supply, and it must be by 
a long and unnatural estrangement, by a divorce 
which no subsequent connection can justify, if such 
precious remains of the earliest attachments are 
ever entirely outlived. Too often, alas ! it is so. 
Fraternal love, sometimes almost everything, is at 
others worse than nothing. But with William and 
Fanny Price it was still a sentiment in all its 
prime and freshness, wounded by no opposition of 
interest, cooled by no separate attachment, and 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

feeling the influence of time and absence only in 
its increase." That it was never Jane's lot to feel 
this cooling of affection on the part of any member 
of her family is due not only to their appreciation 
of their sister, but to the serenity and adaptability 
of her own sweet disposition. 



Both Francis and Charles Austen were educated 
for their profession at the Royal Naval Academy, 
which was established in 1775 at Portsmouth, and 
was under the supreme direction of the Lords of 
the Admiralty. Boys were received there between 
the ages of 1 2 and 1 5. They were supposed to 
stay there for three years, but there was a system 
of sending them out to serve on ships as 
'* Volunteers." This was a valuable part of their 
training, as they were still under the direction of 
the College authorities, and had the double 
advantages of experience and of teaching. They 
did the work of seamen on board, but were 
allowed up on deck, and were specially under the 
eye of the captain, who was supposed to make 
them keep accurate journals, and draw the appear- 
ances of headlands and coasts. It is no doubt to 
this early training that we owe the careful private 
logs which Francis kept almost throughout his 
whole career. 


V / 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

Some of the rules of the Naval Academy show 
how ideas have altered in the last hundred and 
more years. There was a special law laid down 
that masters were to make no differences between 
the boys on account of rank or position, and no 
boy was to be allowed to keep a private servant, 
a rather superfluous regulation in these days. 

Three weeks was the extent of the holiday^ 
which it seems could be taken at any time in 
the year, the Academy being always open for the 
benefit of Volunteers, who were allowed to go 
there when their ships were in Portsmouth. Those 
who distinguished themselves could continue this 
privilege after their promotion. Francis left the 
Academy in 1788, and immediately went out to 
the East Indies on board the Perseverance as 

There he stayed for four years, first as midship- 
man on the Crown, 64 guns, and afterwards on the 
Minerva, 38. 

A very charming letter from his father to 
Francis is still in existence. 

** Memorandum for the use of Mr. F. W. Austen 
on his going to the East Indies on board his 
Majesty's ship Perseverance (Captain Smith). 

^^ December, 1788. 

"My dear Francis, — While you were at the 
Royal Academy the opportunities of writing to you 


Two Midshipmen 

were so frequent that I gave you my opinion and 
advice as occasion arose, and it was sufficient to 
do so ; but now you are going from us for so long 
a time, and to such a distance, that neither you 
can consult me or I reply but at long intervals, I 
think it necessary, therefore, before your depar- 
ture, to give my sentiments on such general 
subjects as I conceive of the greatest import- 
ance to you, and must leave your conduct in 
particular cases to be directed by your own good 
sense and natural judgment of what is right." 

After some well-chosen and impressive injunc- 
tions on the subject of his son's religious duties, 
Mr. Austen proceeds : 

" Your behaviour, as a member of society, to 
the individuals around you may be also of great 
importance to your future well-doing, and cer- 
tainly will to your present happiness and comfort. 
You may either by a contemptuous, unkind and 
selfish manner create disgust and dislike ; or by 
affability, good humour and compliance, become 
the object of esteem and affection ; which of these 
very opposite paths 'tis your interest to pursue 
I need not say. 

*' The little world, of which you are going to be- >^ 
come an inhabitant, will occasionally have it in their 
power to contribute no little share to your pleasure 
or pain ; to conciliate therefore their goodwill, by 
every honourable method, will be the part of a 

17 B 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

prudent man. Your commander and officers will 
be most likely to become your friends by a 
respectful behaviour to themselves, and by an 
active and ready obedience to orders. Good 
humour, an inclination to oblige and the care- 
fully avoiding every appearance of selfishness, 
will infallibly secure you the regards of your own 
mess and of all your equals. With your inferiors 
perhaps you will have but little intercourse, but 
when it does occur there is a sort of kindness 
they have a claim on you for, and which, you 
may believe me, will not be thrown away on them. 
Your conduct, as it respects yourself, chiefly 
comprehends sobriety and prudence. The former 
you know the importance of to your health, your 
morals and your fortune. I shall therefore say 
nothing more to enforce the observance of it. I 
thank God you have not at present the least 
disposition to deviate from it. Prudence extends 
to a variety of objects. Never any action of your 
life in which it will not be your interest to consider 
what she directs ! She will teach you the proper 
disposal of your time and the careful manage- 
ment of your money, — two very important trusts 
for which you are accountable. She will teach 
you that the best chance of rising in life is to make 
yourself as useful as possible, by carefully study- 
ing everything that relates to your profession, 
and distinguishing yourself from those of your 


Two Midshipmen 

own rank by a superior proficiency in nautical 

** As you have hitherto, my dear Francis, been 
extremely fortunate in making friends, I trust 
your future conduct will confirm their good 
opinion of you ; and I have the more confidence 
in this expectation because the high character you 
acquired at the Academy for propriety of behaviour 
and diligence in your studies, when you were 
so much younger and had so much less experi- 
ence, seems to promise that riper years and more 
knowledge of the world will strengthen your 
naturally good disposition. That this may be the 
case I sincerely pray, as you will readily believe 
when you are assured that your good mother, 
brothers, sisters and myself will all exult in your 
reputation and rejoice in your happiness. 

**Thus far by way of general hints for your 
conduct. I shall now mention only a few par- 
ticulars I wish your attention to. As you must be 
convinced it would be the highest satisfaction to us 
to hear as frequently as possible from you, you will 
of course neglect no opportunity of giving us that 
pleasure, and being very minute in what relates to 
yourself and your situation. On this account, 
and because unexpected occasions of writing to us 
may offer, 'twill be a good way always to have a 
letter in forwardness. You may depend on hear- 
ing from some of us at every opportunity. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

" Whenever you draw on me for money, Captain 
Smith will endorse your bills, and I dare say will 
readily do it as often, and for what sums, he shall 
think necessary. At the same time you must not 
forget to send me the earliest possible notice of 
the amount of the draft, and the name of the 
person in whose favour it is drawn. On the 
subject of letter-writing, I cannot help mentioning 
how incumbent it is on you to write to Mr. Bayly, 
both because he desired it and because you have 
no other way of expressing the sense I know you 
entertain of his very great kindness and attention 
to you. Perhaps it would not be amiss if you were 
also to address one letter to your good friend the 
commissioner, to acknowledge how much you 
shall always think yourself obliged to him. 

" Keep an exact account of all the money you 
receive or spend, lend none but where you are 
sure of an early repayment, and on no account 
whatever be persuaded to risk it by gaming. 

" I have nothing to add but my blessing and 
best prayers for your health and prosperity, and 
to beg you would never forget you have not upon 
earth a more disinterested and warm friend than, 
" Your truly affectionate father, 

** Geo. Austen." 

That this letter should have been found among 
the private papers of an old man who died at the 


Two Midshipmen 

age of 91, after a life of constant activity and 
change, is proof enough that it was highly valued 
by the boy of fourteen to whom it was written. 
There is something in its gentleness of tone, and 
the way in which advice is offered rather than 
obedience demanded, which would make it very 
persuasive to the feelings of a young boy going 
out to a life which must consist mainly of the 
opposite duties of responsibility and discipline. 
Incidentally it all throws a pleasant light on the 
characters of both father and son. 

The life of a Volunteer on board ship was by 
no means an easy one, but it no doubt inured the 
boys to hardships and privations, and gave them 
a sympathy with their men which would after- 
wards stand them in good stead. 

The record of Charles as a midshipman is very 
much more stirring than Francis' experiences. 
He served on board the Unicorn, under Captain 
Thomas Williams, at the time of the capture of the 
French frigate La Tribune, a notable single ship 
encounter, which brought Captain Williams the 
honour of knighthood. 

On June 8, 1796, the Unicorn and the 
Santa Margarita, cruising off the Scilly Islands, 
sighted three strange ships, and gave chase. 
They proved to be two French frigates and a 
corvette. La Tribune, La Tamise, and La Legere. 
The French vessels continued all day to run 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

before the wind. The EngHsh ships as they 
gained on them were subjected to a well-directed 
fire, which kept them back so much that it was 
evening before La Tamise at last bore up and 
engaged one of the pursuers, the Santa Margarita, 
After a sharp action of about twenty minutes 
La Tamise struck her colours. 

La Tribune crowded on all sail to make her 
escape, but the Unicorn^ in spite of damage to 
masts and rigging, kept up the chase, and after a 
running fight of ten hours the Unicorn came 
alongside, taking the wind from the sails of the 
French ship. After a close action of thirty-five 
minutes there was a brief interval. As the smoke 
cleared away. La Tribune could be seen trying 
to get to the windward of her enemy. This 
manoeuvre was instantly frustrated, and a few 
more broadsides brought down La Tribunes 
masts, and ended the action. From start to 
finish of the chase the two vessels had run 
2IO miles. Not a man was killed or even hurt 
on board the Unicorn, and not a large proportion 
of the crew of La Tribune suffered. No doubt in 
a running fight of this sort much powder and shot 
would be expended with very little result. 

When this encounter took place Charles Austen 
had been at sea for scarcely two years. Such an 
experience would have given the boy a great 
notion of the excitement and joys in store for him 


f € ,( < t 

Two Midshipmen 

in a seafaring life. Such, however, was not to 
be his luck. Very little important work fell to 
his share till at least twenty years later, and for 
one of his ardent temperament this was a some- 
what hard trial. His day came at last, after 
years of routine, but when he was still young 
enough to enjoy a life of enterprise and of action. 
Even half a century later his characteristic energy 
was never more clearly shown than in his last 
enterprise as Admiral in command during the 
second Burmese War (1852), when he died at the 

Francis, during the four years when he was a 
midshipman, had only one change of captain. 
After serving under Captain Smith in the 
Perseverance, he went to the Crown, under 
Captain the Honourable W. Cornwallis, and 
eventually followed him into the Minerva, 
Admiral Cornwallis was afterwards in command 
of the Channel Fleet, blockading Brest in the 
Trafalgar year. 

Charles had an even better experience than 
Francis had, for he was under Captain Thomas 
Williams all the time he was midshipman, first 
in the Dcedalus, then in the Unicorn, and last in 
the Endymion, 

The fact that both brothers served for nearly i 
all their times as midshipmen under the same | 
captain shows that they earned good opinions. If • 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

midshipmen were not satisfactory they were very 
speedily transferred, as we hear was the lot of 
poor Dick Musgrave. 

*' He had been several years at sea, and had in 
the course of those removals to which all midship- 
men are liable, and especially such midshipmen 
as every captain wishes to get rid of, been six 
months on board Captain Frederick Wentworth's 
frigate, the Laconia ; and from the Laconia he 
had, under the influence of his captain, written 
the only two letters which his father and mother 
had ever received from him during the whole of 
his absence, that is to say the only two disin- 
terested letters ; all the rest had been mere 
applications for money. In each letter he had 
spoken well of his captain — mentioning him in 
strong, though not perfectly well-spelt praise, as 
* a fine dashing felow, only two perticular about 
the schoolmaster.' " 

No doubt Dick's journal and sketches of the 
coast line were neither accurate nor neatly 

William Price's time as a midshipman is, one 
would think, a nearer approach to the careers of 
Francis and Charles. Certainly the account given 
of his talk seems to bear much resemblance to 
the stories Charles, especially, would have to tell 
on his return. 

*' William was often called on by his uncle to 


Two Midshipmen 

be the talker. His recitals were amusing in them- 
selves to Sir Thomas, but the chief object in 
seeking them was to understand the reciter, to 
know the young man by his histories, and he 
listened to his clear, simple, spirited details with 
full satisfaction — seeing in them the proof of good 
principles, professional knowledge, energy, courage 
and cheerfulness — everything that could deserve 
or promise well. Young as he was, William had 
already seen a great deal. He had been in the 
Mediterranean — in the West Indies — in the 
Mediterranean again — had been often taken on 
shore by favour of his captain, and in the course 
of seven years had known every variety of danger 
which sea and war together could offer. With 
such means in his power he had a right to be 
listened to ; and though Mrs. Norris could fidget 
about the room, and disturb everybody in quest 
of two needlefuls of thread or a second-hand shirt 
button in the midst of her nephew's account of a 
shipwreck or an engagement, everybody else 
was attentive ; and even Lady Bertram could 
not hear of such horrors unmoved, or without 
sometimes lifting her eyes from her work to say, 
^ Dear me ! How disagreeable ! I wonder any- 
body can ever go to sea.' 

'*To Henry Crawford they gave a different 
feeling. He longed to have been at sea, and seen 
and done and suffered as much. His heart was 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

warmed, his fancy fired, and he felt a great respect 
for a lad who, before he was twenty, had gone 
through such bodily hardships, and given such 
proofs of mind. The glory of heroism, of useful- 
ness, of exertion, of endurance, made his own 
habits of selfish indulgence appear in shameful 
contrast ; and he wished he had been a William 
Price, distinguishing himself and working his way 
to fortune and consequence with so much self- 
respect and happy ardour, instead of what he 
was ! " 

This gives a glowing account of the conse- 
quence of a midshipman on leave. That times 
were not always so good, that they had their 
share of feeling small and of no account, on shore 
as well as at sea, is only to be expected, and 
Fanny was not allowed to imagine anything else. 

'''This is the Assembly night, 'said William. * If 
I were at Portsmouth, I should be at it perhaps.' 

" ' But you do not wish yourself at Portsmouth, 
William ? ' 

'" No, Fanny, that I do not. I shall have enough 
of Portsmouth, and of dancing too, when I cannot 
have you. And I do not know that there would 
be any good in going to the Assembly, for I might 
not get a partner. The Portsmouth girls turn up 
their noses at anybody who has not a commission. 
One might as well be nothing as a midshipman. 
One is nothing, indeed. You remember the 


Two Midshipmen 

Gregorys ; they are grown up amazing fine girls, 
but they will hardly speak to me, because Lucy is 
courted by a lieutenant.' 

** * Oh ! Shame, shame ! But never mind it, 
William (her own cheeks in a glow of indignation 
as she spoke). It is not worth minding. It is no 
reflection on you ; it is no more than the greatest 
admirals have all experienced, more or less, In their 
time. You must think of that ; you must try to 
make up your mind to it as one of the hardships 
which fall to every sailor's share — like bad weather 
and hard living — only with this advantage, that 
there will be an end to it, that there will come a 
time when you will have nothing of that sort to 
endure. When you are a lieutenant ! — only think, 
William, when you are a lieutenant, how little 
you will care for any nonsense of this kind.' " 




\ Francis obtained his Lieutenant's commission in 
1792, serving for a year in the East Indies, and 
afterwards on the home station. Early pro- 
motions were frequent in those days of the Navy ; 
and, in many ways, no doubt, this custom was a 
good one, as the younger men had the dash and 
assurance which was needed, when success lay 
mainly in the power of making rapid decisions. 
Very early advancement had nevertheless decided 
disadvantages, and it was among the causes that 
brought about the mutinies of 1797. There are 
four or five cases on record of boys being made 
captains before they were eighteen, and pro- 
motions often went so much by favour and so 
little by real merit that the discontent of the 
crews commanded by such inexperienced officers 
was not at all to be wondered at. There were 
many other long-standing abuses, not the least of 
which was the system of punishments, frightful 
in their severity. A few instances of these, taken 


Changes and Chances in the Navy 

at haphazard from the logs of the various ships 
on which Francis Austen served as Lieutenant will 
illustrate this point. 

Glory, December 8, 1795. — ** Punished P. C. 
Smith forty-nine lashes for theft." 

January 14, 1796. — ** Punished sixteen seamen 
with one dozen lashes each for neglect of duty in 
being off the deck in their watch." 

Punishments were made as public as possible. 
The following entry is typical : 

Seahorse, December 9, 1797. — '' Sent a boat to 
attend punishments round the fleet." 

In the log of the London, one of the ships ot 
the line blockading Cadiz, just after the fearful 
mutinies of 1797, we find, as might be expected, 
that punishments were more severe than ever. 

August 16, 1798. — ''Marlborough made the 
signal for punishment. Sent three boats manned 
and armed to attend the punishment of Charles 
Moore (seaman belonging to the Marlborough), 
who was sentenced to receive one hundred lashes 
for insolence to his superior officer. Read the 
articles of war and sentence of Court-martial to 
the ship's company. The prisoner received 
twenty-five lashes alongside this ship." 

In the case of a midshipman court-martialled 
for robbing a Portuguese boat, ''the charges having 
been proved, he was sentenced to be turned before 
the mast, to have his uniform stripped off him on 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

the quarter-deck before all the ship's company, to 
have his head shaved, and to be rendered for ever 
incapable of serving as a petty officer." 

No fewer than six executions are recorded in 
the log of the London as taking place among the 
ships of the fleet off Cadiz. Only one instance is 
mentioned where the offender was pardoned by 
the commander-in-chief on account of previous 
good conduct. Earl St. Vincent certainly deserved 
his reputation as a disciplinarian. 

When, in addition to the system of punishment, 
it is further considered that the food was almost 
always rough and very often uneatable, that most 
of the crews were pressed men, who would rather 
have been at any other work, and that the seamen's 
share in any possible prizes was ludicrously small, 
one wonders, not at the mutinies, but at the 
splendid loyalty shown when meeting the enemy. 

It is a noticeable fact that discontent was rife 
during long times of inaction (whilst blockading 
Cadiz is the notable instance), but when it came 
to fighting for their country men and officers alike 
managed to forget their grievances. 

On May 29, the log of the London is as follows : 

''The Marlborough anchored in the middle of 
the line. At seven the Marlborough made the 
signal for punishment. Sent our launch, barge 
and cutter, manned and armed, to attend the 
execution of Peter Anderson, belonging to the 


Changes and Chances in the Navy 

Marlborough, who was sentenced to suffer death 
for mutiny. Read the sentence of the court- 
martial, and the articles of war to the ship's 
company. At nine the execution took place." 
This is a record of an eye-witness of the historic 
scene which put a stop to organised mutiny in the 
Cadiz fleet. 

The narrative has been often told. Lord St. 
Vincent's order to the crew of the Marlborough 
that they alone should execute their comrade, the 
leader of the mutiny — the ship moored at a central 
point, and surrounded by all the men-of-war's 
boats armed with carronades under the charge of 
expert gunners — the Marlborough' s own guns 
housed and secured, and ports lowered — every 
precaution adopted in case of resistance to the 
Admiral's orders — and the result, in the words of 
the commander-in-chief: " Discipline is pre- 

Perhaps the relief felt in the fleet was expressed 
in some measure by the salute of seventeen guns 
recorded on the same day, '' being the anniversary 
of King Charles' restoration." 

Gradually matters were righted. Very early 
promotions were abolished, and throughout the 
Navy efforts were made on the part of the officers 
to make their men more comfortable, and espe- 
cially to give them better and more wholesome 
food — but reforms must always be slow if they are 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

to do good and not harm, and, necessarily, the 
lightening of punishments which seem to us bar- 
barous was the slowest of all. 

The work of the pressgang is always a subject 
of some interest and romance. It is difficult to 
realise that it was a properly authorised Govern- 
ment measure. There were certain limits in which 
it might work, certain laws to be obeyed. The 
most useful men, those who were already at sea, 
but not in the King's service, could not legally be 
impressed, unless they were free from all former 
obligations, and the same rule applied to appren- 
tices. These rules were not, however, strictly 
kept, and much trouble was often caused by the 
wrong men being impressed, or by false state- 
ments being used to get others off. The following 
letter, written much later in his career by Francis 
Austen when he was Captain of the Leopard in 
1 804, gives a typical case of this kind. 

Leopard^ Dungeness, August 10, 1804. 

'* Sir, — I have to acknowledge the receipt of 
your letter of the 17th inst., with the enclosure, 
relative to Harris Walker, said to be chief mate 
of the Fanny, and in reply thereto have the 
honour to inform you that the said Harris Walker 
was impressed from on board the brig Fanny, off 
Dungeness, by Lieutenant Taylor of his Majesty's 
ship under my command, on the evening of the 


Changes and Chances in the Navy 

7th inst., because no documents proving him to be 
actually chief mate of the brig were produced, and 
because the account he gave of himself was un- 
satisfactory and contradictory. On examining 
him the following day he at first confessed to me 
that he had entered on board the Fanny only 
three days before she sailed from Tobago, in 
consequence of the captain (a relation of his) 
being taken ill, and shortly afterwards he asserted 
that the whole of the cargo had been taken on 
board and stowed under his direction. The 
master of the Fanny told Lieutenant Taylor that 
his cargo had been shipped more than a fortnight 
before he sailed, having been detained for want 
of a copy of the ship's register, she being a prize 
purchased and fitted at Tobago. From these 
very contradictory accounts — from the man's 
having no affidavit to produce of his being actual 
chief mate of the brig, from his not having signed 
any articles as such — and from his handwriting 
totally disagreeing with the Log- Book (said to 
have been kept by himself) I felt myself perfectly 
justified in detaining him for his Majesty's service. 

" I return the enclosure, and have the honour 
to be, 

** Sir, your obedient humble servant, 

*' Francis Wm. Austen. 

*' Thomas Louis, Esq., 

'* Rear- Admiral of the Blue." 

33 c 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

The reason assigned, that the reports Harris 
Walker gave of himself were ** unsatisfactory 
and contradictory," seems to us a bad one for 
** detaining him for his Majesty's service," but it 
shows clearly how great were the difficulties in 
keeping up the supply of men. Captain Austen 
had not heard the last of this man, as the belief 
seems to have been strong that he was not legally 
impressed. Harris Walker, however, settled the 
matter by deserting on October 5. 

An entry in the log of the newly built frigate 
Triton, under Captain Gore, gives an instance of 
wholesale, and one would think entirely illegal 

November 25, 1796, in the Thames (Long 

** Sent all the boats to impress the crew of the 
Britannia East India ship. The boats returned 
with thirty-nine men, the remainder having armed 
themselves and barricaded the bread room." 

** 26th, the remainder of the Britannia crew 
surrendered, being twenty-three. Brought them 
on board." 

So great was the necessity of getting more 
men, and a better stamp of men, into the Navy, 
and of making them fairly content when there, 
that in 1800 a Royal Proclamation was issued 
encouraging men to enlist, and promising them a 


Changes and Chances in the Navy 

This bounty, though it worked well in many- 
cases, was of course open to various forms of 
abuse. Some who were entitled to it did not get 
it, and many put in a claim whose right was at least 
doubtful. An instance appears in the letters of the 
Leopard oi a certain George Rivers, who had been 
entered as a ''prestman," and applied success- 
fully to be considered as a Volunteer, thereby to 
procure the bounty. He evidently wanted to 
make the best of his position. 

The case of Thomas Roberts, given in another 
letter from the Leopard, is an example of induce- 
ments offered to enter the service. 

Thomas Roberts ''appears to have been 
received as a Volunteer from H.M.S. Ceres, and 
received thirty shillings bounty. He says he was 
apprenticed to his father about three years ago, 
and that, sometime last October, he was enticed to 
a public-house by two men, who afterwards took 
him on board the receiving ship off the Tower, 
where he was persuaded to enter the service." 

The difficulty of getting an adequate crew seems 
to have led in some cases to sharp practice among 
the officers themselves, if we are to believe that 
Admiral Croft had real cause for complaint. 

" ' If you look across the street,' he says to Anne 
Elliot, ' you will see Admiral Brand coming 
down, and his brother. Shabby fellows, both of 
them ! I am glad they are not on this side of the 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

way. Sophy cannot bear them. They played me 
a pitiful trick once ; got away some of my best 
men. I will tell you the whole story another 
time.' " But ''another time " never comes, so we 
are reduced to imagining the " pitiful trick." 

The unpopularity of the Navy, and the con- 
sequent shorthandedness in time of war, had one 
very bad result in bringing into it all sorts of 
undesirable foreigners, who stirred up strife 
among the better disposed men, and altogether 
aggravated the evils of the service. 

Undoubtedly the care of the officers for their 
men was doing its gradual work in lessening all 
these evils. To instance this, we find, as we read 
on in the letters and official reports of Francis 
Austen, that the entry, ' ' the man named in the 
margin did run from his Majesty's ship under my 
command," comes with less and less frequency ; 
and we have on record that the Aurora, under the 
command of Captain Charles Austen, did not lose 
a single man by sickness or desertion during the 
years 1 826-1 828, whilst he was in command. 
Even when some allowance is made for his 
undoubted charm of personality, this is a strong 
evidence of the real improvements which had been 
worked in the Navy during thirty years. 

With such constant difficulties and discomforts 
to contend with, it seems in some ways remark- 
able that the Navy should have been so popular as 


Changes and Chances in the Navy 

a profession among the classes from which officers 
were drawn. Some of this popularity, and no 
doubt a large share, was the effect of a strong 
feeling of patriotism, and some was due to the fact 
that the Navy was a profession in which it was 
possible to get on very fast. A man of moderate 
luck and enterprise was sure to make some sort of 
mark, and if to this he added any ** interest" his 
success was assured. Success, in those days of 
the Navy, meant money. It is difficult for us to 
realise the large part played by ** prizes " in the 
ordinary routine work of the smallest sloop. In 
the case of Captain Wentworth, a very fair average 
instance, we know that when he engaged himself 
to Anne Elliot, he had ** nothing but himself to 
recommend him, no hopes of attaining influence, 
but in the chances of a most uncertain profession, 
and no connexions to secure even his farther rise 
in that profession," yet we find that his hopes for 
his own advancement were fully justified. Jane 
Austen would have been very sure to have heard 
of it from Francis if not from Charles, if she had 
made Captain Wentworth's success much more 
remarkable than that of the ordinary run of men 
in such circumstances. 

We are clearly told what those circumstances 

'* Captain Wentworth had no fortune. He had 
been lucky in his profession ; but spending freely 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

what had come freely had realised nothing. But 
he was confident that he would soon be rich ; full 
of life and ardour, he knew that he would soon 
have a ship, and soon be on a station that would 
lead to everything he wanted. He had always 
been lucky ; he knew he should be so still." Later, 
'* all his sanguine expectations, all his confidence 
had been justified. His genius and ardour had 
seemed to foresee and to command his prosperous 
path. He had, very soon after their engagement 
ceased, got employ ; and all that he had told her 
would follow had taken place. He had distin- 
guished himself, and early gained the other step 
in rank, and must now, by successive captures, 
have made a handsome fortune. She had only 
Navy Lists and newspapers for her authority, but 
she could not doubt his being rich." 

Such were some of the inducements. That 
'* Jack ashore " was a much beloved person 
may also have had its influence. Anne Elliot 
speaks for the greater part of the nation when 
she says, *' the Navy, I think, who have done 
so much for us, have at least an equal claim 
with any other set of men, for all the com- 
forts and all the privileges which any home 
can give. Sailors work hard enough for their 
comforts we must allow." 

That Sir Walter Elliot represents another large 
section of the community is, however, not to be 


Changes and Chances in the Navy- 
denied, but his opinions are not of the sort to act 
as a deterrent to any young man bent on following 
a gallant profession. 

**Sir Walter's remark was: *The profession 
has its utility, but I should be sorry to see any 
friend of mine belonging to it." 

** * Indeed!' was the reply, and with a look of 

*' * Yes, it is in two points offensive to me ; I 
have two strong grounds of objection to it. 
First, as being the means of bringing persons'*, 
of obscure birth into undue distinction, and raising \ 
men to honours which their fathers and grand- 
fathers never dreamt of ; and, secondly, as it 
cuts up a man's youth and vigour most horribly ; 
a sailor grows old sooner than any other man. I 
have observed it all my life. A man is in greater 
danger in the Navy of being insulted by the rise of 
one whose father his father might have disdained 
to speak to, and of becoming prematurely an 
object of disgust to himself, than in any other line. 
One day last spring in town I was in company 
with two men, striking instances of what I am 
talking of : Lord St. Ives, whose father we all know 
to have been a country curate, without bread to 
eat : I was to give place to Lord St. Ives, and a 
certain Admiral Baldwin, the most deplorable- 
looking personage you can imagine ; his face the 
colour of mahogany, rough and rugged to the last 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

degree ; all lines and wrinkles, nine grey hairs of 
a side, and nothing but a dab of powder at top.' 

" * In the name of heaven, who is that old 
fellow ? ' said I to a friend of mine who was 
standing near (Sir Basil Morley), * Old fellow ! ' 
cried Sir Basil, 'it is Admiral Baldwin.' 
*' * What do you take his age to be ? ' 
" 'Sixty,' said I, *or perhaps sixty-two.' 
'** Forty,' replied Sir Basil, 'forty, and no 

'* * Picture to yourselves my amazement. I shall 
not easily forget Admiral Baldwin. I never saw 
quite so wretched an example of what a seafaring 
life can do ; they all are knocked about, and 
exposed to every climate and every weather till 
they are not fit to be seen. It is a pity they are 
not knocked on the head at once, before they 
reach Admiral Baldwin's age.' " 




As Lieutenant, Francis Austen had very different 
experience and surroundings to those of his days 
as a midshipman. For three years and more he 
was in various ships on the home station, which 
meant a constant round of dull routine work, en- 
livened only by chances of getting home for a few 
days. While serving in the Lark sloop, he ac- 
companied to Cuxhaven the squadron told off to 
bring to England Princess Caroline of Brunswick, 
soon to become Princess of Wales. The voyage 
out seems to have been arctic in its severity. 
This bad weather, combined with dense fogs, 
caused the Lark to get separated from the rest 
of the squadron, and from March 6 till the 1 1 th 
nothing was seen or heard of the sloop. On 
March 1 8 the Princess came on board the Jupiter, 
the flagship of the squadron, and arrived in 
England on April 5 after a fair passage, but a 
voyage about as long as that to the Cape of Good 
Hope nowadays. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

Francis notes in the log of the Glory, that 
while cruising/ ' the 7?^/f//£?r cutter joined company, 
and informed us she yesterday spoke H.M.S. 
Dcedalus " — a matter of some interest to him, as 
Charles was then on board the Dadalus as mid- 
shipman, under Captain Thomas Williams. Captain 
Williams had married Jane Cooper, a cousin ot 
Jane Austen, who was inclined to tease him about 
his having ''no taste in names." The following 
extract from one of her letters to Cassandra 
touches on nearly all these facts : 

" Sunday, /anwaf^y lo, 1796. 

" By not returning till the 19th, you will exactly 
contrive to miss seeing the Coopers, which I 
suppose it is your wish to do. We have heard 
nothing from Charles for some time. One would 
suppose they must have sailed by this time, as the 
wind is so favourable. What a funny name Tom 
has got for his vessel ! But he has no taste in 
names, as we well know, and I dare say he 
christened it himself." 

Tom seems to have been a great favourite with 
his wife's cousins. Only a few days later Jane 
writes : 

'* How impertinent you are to write to me about 
Tom, as if I had not opportunities of hearing from 
him myself. The last letter I received from him 



was dated on Friday the 8th, and he told me that 
if the wind should be favourable on Sunday, which 
it proved to be, they were to sail from Falmouth 
on that day. By this time, therefore, they are at 
Barbadoes, I suppose." 

Having the two brothers constantly backwards 
and forwards must have been very pleasant at 
Steventon. Almost every letter has some refer- 
ence to one or the other. 

** Edward and Frank are both gone forth to seek 
their fortunes ; the latter is to return soon and help 
us to seek ours." 

Later from Rowling, Edward Austen's home, 
she writes : 

'* If this scheme holds, I shall hardly be at 
Steventon before the middle of the month ; but if 
you cannot do without me I could return, I sup- 
pose, with Frank, if he ever goes back. He enjoys 
himself here very much, for he has just learnt to 
turn, and is so delighted with the employment that 
he is at it all day long. . . . What a fine fellow 
Charles is, to deceive us into writing two letters 
to him at Cork ! I admire his ingenuity extremely, 
especially as he is so great a gainer by it. . . . 
Frank has turned a very nice little butter-churn for 
Fanny. . . . We walked Frank last night to (church 
at) Crixhall Ruff, and he appeared much edified. 
So his Royal Highness Sir Thomas Williams has 
at length sailed ; the papers say * on a cruise.' 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

But I hope they are gone to Cork, or I shall have 
written in vain. . . . Edward and Fly (short for 
Frank) went out yesterday very early in a couple 
of shooting-jackets, and came home like a couple 
of bad shots, for they killed nothing at all. 

** They are out again to-day, and are not yet 
returned. Delightful sport ! They are just come 
home — Edward with his two brace, Frank with 
his two and a half. What amiable young men ! " 

About the middle of September 1796 Frank 
was appointed to the Triton, which event is an- 
nounced to Cassandra in these terms : 

*' This morning has been spent in doubt and 
deliberation, forming plans and removing difficul- 
ties, for it ushered in the day with an event which 
I had not intended should take place so soon by a 
week. Frank has received his appointment on 
board the Captain John Gore, commanded by the 
Triton, and will therefore be obliged to be in 
town on Wednesday ; and though I have every 
disposition in the world to accompany him on 
that day, I cannot go on the uncertainty of the 
Pearsons being at home. 

" The Triton is a new 3 2 -frigate, just launched 
at Deptford. Frank is much pleased with the 
prospect of having Captain Gore under his com- 

Francis stayed on board the Triton for about 
eighteen months. He then spent six months in 





the Seahorse before his appointment to the London 
off Cadiz, in February 1798. On April 30 follow- 
ing is recorded in the log of the London the ar- 
rival of H. M.S. Vanguard, carrying Rear- Admiral 
Sir Horatio Nelson's flag, and on May 3 the 
Vanguard proceeded to Gibraltar. On May 24 
the ** detached squadron" sailed as follows: Cul- 
loden (Captain Troubridge), Bellerophon, Defence, 
Theseus, Goliath, Zealous, Minotaur, Majestic, and 

These three entries foreshadow the Battle of the 
Nile, on August i. The account of this victory 
was read to the crew of the London on September 
27, and on October 24 they "saw eleven sail in 
the south-west — the Orion and the French line of 
battleships, prizes to Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson's 

Now and then the London went as far as Ceuta 
or Gibraltar, and the log notes, '* Cape Trafalgar 
East 7 leagues." 

It is curious to think that ** Trafalgar " conveyed 
nothing remarkable to the writer. One wonders 
too what view would have been expressed as to 
the plan of making Gibraltar a naval command, 
obviously advantageous in twentieth-century con- 
ditions, but probably open to many objections in 
those days. 

Charles, in December 1797, was promoted to 
be a Lieutenant, serving in the Scorpion. There 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

is something In the account of William Price's joy- 
over his promotion which irresistibly calls up the 
picture of Charles in the same circumstances. 
Francis would always have carried his honours 
with decorum, but Charles' bubbling enthusiasm 
would have been more difficult to restrain. 

** William had obtained a ten days' leave of 
absence, to be given to Northamptonshire, and 
was coming to show his happiness and describe 
his uniform. He came, and he would have been 
delighted to show his uniform there too, had not 
cruel custom prohibited its appearance except on 
duty. So the uniform remained at Portsmouth, 
and Edmund conjectured that before Fanny had 
any chance of seeing it, all its own freshness, and 
all the freshness of its wearer's feelings, must be 
worn away. It would be sunk into a badge of 
disgrace ; for what can be more unbecoming or 
more worthless than the uniform of a lieutenant 
who has been a lieutenant a year or two, and sees 
others made commanders before him ? So 
reasoned Edmund, till his father made him the 
confidant of a scheme which placed Fanny's 
chance of seeing the Second Lieutenant of 
H.M.S. Thrush in all his glory, in another light. 
This scheme was that she should accompany her 
brother back to Portsmouth, and spend a little 
time with her own family. William was almost 
as happy in the plan as his sister. It would be 



the greatest pleasure to him to have her there to 
the last moment before he sailed, and perhaps find 
her there still when he came in from his first 
cruise. And, besides, he wanted her so very much 
to see the Thrush before she went out of harbour 
(the Thrush was certainly the finest sloop in the 
service). And there were several improvements 
in the dockyard, too, which he quite longed to show 
her. ... Of pleasant talk between the brother 
and sister there was no end. Everything supplied 
an amusement to the high glee of William's mind, 
and he was full of frolic and joke in the intervals 
of their high-toned subjects, all of which ended, 
if they did not begin, in praise of the Thrush — 
conjectures how she would be employed, schemes 
for an action with some superior force, which (sup- 
posing the first lieutenant out of the way — and 
William was not very merciful to the first lieu- 
tenant) was to give himself the next step as soon 
as possible, or speculations upon prize-money, 
which was to be generously distributed at home 
with only the reservation of enough to make the 
little cottage comfortable in which he and Fanny 
were to pass all their middle and later life to- 

Charles's year in the Scorpion was spent under 
the command of Captain John Tremayne Rodd. 
The chief event was the capture of the Courier, 
a Dutch brig carrying six guns. Undoubtedly the 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

life was dull on a small brig, and Charles as mid- 
shipman had not been used to be dull. He 
evidently soon began to be restless, and to agitate 
for removal, which he got just about the same 
time as that of Francis's promotion. 

In December 1798 Francis was made Com- 
mander of the Peterel sloop, and Charles, still as 
Lieutenant, was moved from the Scorpion to the 
frigate Tamar, and eventually to the Endymion, 
commanded by his old friend and captain, Sir 
Thomas Williams. 

Charles had evidently written to his sister 
Cassandra to complain of his hard lot. Cassandra 
was away at the time, staying with Edward Austen 
at Godmersham, but she sent the letter home, 
and on December 18 Jane writes in answer : 

*' I am sorry our dear Charles begins to feel 
the dignity of ill-usage. My father will write to 
Admiral Gambler" (who was then one of the 
Lords of the Admiralty). *' He must have already 
received so much satisfaction from his acquaintance 
and patronage of Frank, that he will be delighted, 
I dare say, to have another of the family intro- 
duced to him. I think it would be very right in 
Charles to address Sir Thomas on the occasion, 
though I cannot approve of your scheme of writing 
to him (which you communicated to me a few 
nights ago) to request him to come home and 
convey you to Steventon. To do you justice, 



you had some doubts of the propriety of such a 
measure yourself. The letter to Gambler goes 

This is followed, on December 24, by a letter 
which must have been as delightful to write as to 

** I have got some pleasant news for you which 
I am eager to communicate, and therefore begin 
my letter sooner, though I shall not send it sooner 
than usual. Admiral Gambler, in reply to my 
father's application, writes as follows : ' As it is 
usual to keep young officers ' (Charles was then 
only nineteen) ' in small vessels, it being most 
proper on account of their inexperience, and it 
being also a situation where they are more in the 
way of learning their duty, your son has been 
continued in the Scorpion ; but I have mentioned 
to the Board of Admiralty his wish to be in a 
frigate, and when a proper opportunity offers, and 
It is judged that he has taken his turn in a small 
ship, I hope he will be removed. With regard to 
your son now in the London, I am glad I can 
give you the assurance that his promotion is likely 
to take place very soon, as Lord Spencer has 
been so good as to say he would include him 
in an arrangement that he proposes making in a 
short time relative to some promotions in that 

"■ There ! I may now finish my letter and go 

49 i> 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

and hang myself, for I am sure I can neither 
write nor do anything which will not appear 
insipid to you after this. Now I really think he 
will soon be made, and only wish we could com- 
municate our foreknowledge of the event to him 
whom it principally concerns. My father has 
written to Daysh to desire that he will inform us, 
if he can, when the commission is sent. Your 
chief wish is now ready to be accomplished, and 
could Lord Spencer give happiness to Martha at 
the same time, what a joyful heart he would make 
of yours! " 

It is quite clear from this, and many other ot 
the letters of Jane to Cassandra, that both sisters 
were anxious to bring off a match between Frank 
and their great friend, Martha Lloyd, whose 
younger sister was the wife of James Austen. 
Martha Lloyd eventually became Frank's second 
wife nearly thirty years after the date of this 

Jane continues her letter by saying : 
'* I have sent the same extract of the sweets of 
Gambler to Charles, who, poor fellow ! though he 
sinks into nothing but an humble attendant on the 
hero of the piece, will, I hope, be contented with 
the prospect held out to him. By what the Ad- 
miral says, it appears as if he had been designedly 
kept in the Scorpion. But I will not torment 
myself with conjectures and suppositions. Facts 



shall satisfy me. Frank had not heard from any 
of us for ten weeks, when he wrote to me on 
November 12, In consequence of Lord St. Vincent 
being removed to Gibraltar. When his commis- 
sion is sent, however, it will not be so long on its 
road as our letters, because all the Government 
despatches are forwarded by land to his lordship 
from Lisbon with great regularity. The lords 
of the Admiralty will have enough of our appli- 
cations at present, for I hear from Charles that he 
has written to Lord Spencer himself to be re- 
moved. I am afraid his Serene Highness will be 
in a passion, and order some of our heads to be 
cut off." 

The next letter, of December 28, is the cul- 
minating-point : 

** Frank is made. He was yesterday raised to 
the rank of Commander, and appointed to the 
Peterel sloop, now at Gibraltar. A letter from 
Daysh has just announced this, and as it is con- 
firmed by a very friendly one from Mr. Matthew 
to the same effect, transcribing one from Admiral 
Gambler to the General, we have no reason to 
suspect the truth of it. 

** As soon as you have cried a little for joy, 
you may go on, and learn farther that the 
India House have taken Captain Austen's petition 
into consideration — this comes from Daysh — and 
likewise that Lieutenant Charles John Austen is 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

removed to the Tamar frigate — this comes from 
the Admiral. We cannot find out where the 
Tamar is, but I hope we shall now see Charles 
here at all events. 

'' This letter is to be dedicated entirely to good 
news. If you will send my father an account of 
your washing and letter expenses, &c., he will 
send you a draft for the amount of it, as well as 
for your next quarter, and for Edward's rent. If 
you don't buy a muslin gown on the strength of 
this money and Frank's promotion I shall never 
forgive you. 

*' Mrs. Lefroy has just sent me word that Lady 
Dorchester meant to invite me to her ball on 
January 8, which, though an humble blessing 
compared with what the last page records, I do 
not consider any calamity. I cannot write any 
more now, but I have written enough to make you 
very happy, and therefore may safely conclude." 

Jane was in great hopes that Charles would 
get home in time for this ball at Kempshot, but he 
'' could not get superceded in time," and so did not 
arrive until some days later. On January 21 we 
find him going off to join his ship, not very well 
pleased with existing arrangements. 

''Charles leaves us to-night. The Tamar is in 
the Downs, and Mr. Daysh advises him to join 
her there directly, as there is no chance of her 
going to the westward. Charles does not approve 



of this at all, and will not be much grieved if he 
should be too late for her before she sails, as he 
may then hope to get a better station. He at- 
tempted to go to town last night, and got as far 
on his road thither as Dean Gate ; but both the 
coaches were full, and we had the pleasure of 
seeing him back again. He will call on Daysh 
to-morrow, to know whether the Tamar has sailed 
or not, and if she is still at the Downs he will 
proceed in one of the night coaches to Deal. 

** I want to go with him, that I may explain the 
country properly to him between Canterbury and 
Rowling, but the unpleasantness of returning by 
myself deters me. I should like to go as far as 
Ospringe with him very much indeed, that I might 
surprise you at Godmersham." 

Charles evidently did get off this time, for we 
read a few days later that he had written from the 
Downs, and was pleased to find himself Second 
Lieutenant on board the Tamar. 

The Endymion was also in the Downs, a further 
cause of satisfaction. It was only three weeks later 
that Charles was reappointed to the Endymion as 
Lieutenant, in which frigate he saw much service, 
chiefly off Algeciras, under his old friend '' Tom." 
One is inclined to wonder how far this accidental 
meeting in the Downs influenced the appointment. 
Charles appears on many occasions to have had a 
quite remarkable gift for getting what he wanted. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

His charm of manner, handsome face, and affec- 
tionate disposition, combined with untiring enthu- 
siasm, must have made him very hard to resist, 
and he evidently had no scruple about making his 
wants clear to all whom it might concern. The 
exact value of interest in these matters is always 
difficult to gauge, but there is no doubt that a 
well-timed application was nearly always necessary 
for advancement. The account of the way in 
which Henry Crawford secured promotion for 
William Price is no doubt an excellent example 
of how things were done. 

Henry takes William to dinner with the Ad- 
miral, and encourages him to talk. The Admiral 
takes a fancy to the young man, and speaks to 
some friends about him with a view to his promo- 
tion. The result is contained in the letters which 
Henry so joyfully hands over to Fanny to read. 

** Fanny could not speak, but he did not want 
her to speak. To see the expression of her eyes, 
the change of her complexion, the progress of her 
feelings — their doubt, confusion and felicity — was 
enough. She took the letters as he gave them. 
The first was from the Admiral to inform his 
nephew, in a few words, of his having succeeded 
in the object he had undertaken (the promotion 
of young Price), and enclosing two more — one 
from the secretary of the First Lord to a friend, 
whom the Admiral had set to work in the business ; 



the other from that friend to himself, by which it 
appeared that his lordship had the very great 
happiness of attending to the recommendation of 
Sir Charles ; that Sir Charles was much delighted 
in having such an opportunity of proving his regard 
for Admiral Crawford, and that the circumstances 
of Mr. William Price's commission as Second 
Lieutenant of H.M. sloop Thrush being made out, 
was spreading general joy through a wide circle 
of great people." 




It will, perhaps, be as well to recall some of the 
principal events of the war, during the few years 
before Francis took up his command of the 
Peter el, in order that his work may be better 

Spain had allied herself with France in 1796, 
and early in the following year matters looked 
most unpromising for England. The British 
fleet had been obliged to leave the Mediterranean. 
Bonaparte was gaining successes against Austria 
on land. The peace negotiations, which had 
been begun by France, had been peremptorily 
stopped, while the French expedition to Ireland 
obviously owed its failure to bad weather, and not 
in the least to any effective interference on the 
part of the British Navy. Altogether the horizon 
was dark, and every one in England was expect- 
ing to hear of crushing disaster dealt out by the 
combined fleets of France and Spain, and all 
lived in fear of invasion. Very different was the 


The Peterel Sloop 

news that arrived In London early In March. Sir 
John Jervis, with Nelson and Collingwood, met 
the Spanish fleet off Cape St. Vincent on 
Valentine's Day, and we all know the result. As 
Jervis said on the morning of the fight, '' A victory 
was essential to England at this moment." The 
confidence of the nation returned, and was not 
lost again through the hard struggle of the follow- 
ing years. An extract from the log of Lieutenant 
F. W. Austen, on board the frigate Seahorse, in 
the Hamoaze, October 6, 1797, reads as follows '- 
" Came into harbour the San Josef , Salvador del 
MundOy San Nicolai, and San Isidore, Spanish 
line-of-battle ships, captured by the fleet under 
Lord St. Vincent on the 14th February." 

After their defeat, the remainder of the Spanish 
fieet entered the port of Cadiz, and were for the 
next two years blockaded by Admiral Jervis, now 
Earl St. Vincent. In this blockade, Francis 
Austen took part, serving In the London, 

During this time of comparative Inaction, the 
fearful mutinies, described in a former chapter, 
seemed to be sapping the strength of the Navy. 
The greater number of the British ships were 
concentrated in the Channel under Lord Bridport, 
and were employed in watching the harbour of 
Brest, in order to prevent the French fleet from 
escaping, with what success we shall presently 
tell. Our flag was scarcely to be seen inside the 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

Mediterranean except on a few sloops of war. 
Each side was waiting- for some movement of 
aggression from the other. Now was Bonaparte's 
chance to get to the East. His plans were quietly 
and secretly formed. An armament was prepared 
at Toulon almost unknown to the British, and at 
the same time all possible measures to avert sus- 
picion were taken. The Spanish fleet in Cadiz 
formed up as if for departure, and so kept Lord St. 
Vincent on the watch, while Bonaparte himself 
stayed in Paris until the expedition was quite ready 
to start, in order to give the idea that the invasion 
of England was intended. Still it was not prac- 
ticable to keep the preparations entirely secret 
for any length of time. 

Early in April 1798 Nelson sailed from 
England, joined St. Vincent at Cadiz, and imme- 
diately went on into the Mediterranean, with three 
ships of the line, to reconnoitre. He was rein- 
forced by nine more under Troubridge, and Lord 
St. Vincent had orders from home to follow with 
the entire squadron if it should prove necessary. 
Nelson searched for Bonaparte in the Mediter- 
ranean, and missed him twice. The French 
seized Malta for the sake of getting their supplies 
through, but the British as promptly blockaded it. 
At last, on August i. Nelson came upon the 
French fleet anchored in Aboukir Bay, and the 
Battle of the Nile was fought. The situation 


The Peterel Sloop 

now created can be briefly summarised. Bona- 
parte was in Egypt, cut off from all communication 
with France, and however determinedly he might 
turn his face towards Africa or Asia his position 
was a serious one. Turkey almost immediately 
declared war against France. Malta was still 
closely blockaded by the British. Nelson had 
established himself at Palermo, on friendly terms 
with the King of Naples, who had taken refuge 
in Sicily. The news of the Battle of the Nile had 
spread far and wide, and France had good reason 
to fear that the tide had turned against her. 

Early in 1799 Bonaparte attacked Acre, and 
Sir Sydney Smith was sent to harass his forces, 
and to compel him, if possible, to raise the 

At this time occurred one of those events 
which show how a slight advantage, properly 
used, may decide the final issue. Matters were 
in this critical state ; every British ship in and 
near the Mediterranean was employed at some 
important work, when that happened which might 
have been the cause of serious disaster. Admiral 
Bruix got away from Brest with a fleet of twenty- 
five sail of the line and ten smaller ships. 

The blame of this mishap is not at all easy to 
attach. Lord Bridport was still in command of 
the Channel Fleet, but the Admiralty seemed to 
prefer to keep him in touch with headquarters off 


Tane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

the coast of Kent, rather than to allow him to main- 
tain a position whence he could more easily keep 
watch on the French fleet. Now ensued an ex- 
citing time. No one knew where the French 
fleet was, much less whither it was bound. They 
had escaped in a thick fog, being seen only by 
La Nymphe, one of the British frigates, whose 
officers, owing to the density of the fog, imagined 
that they saw the fleet bring to under the land, and 
signalled accordingly to Lord Bridport. When 
the fog lifted the French fleet was no longer in 

Of course the first idea was that they had gone 
to Ireland, and off went Lord Bridport to pursue 
them. A little later news was received that they 
had sailed southward, and a correspondent at this 
time writes : *' Lord St. Vincent will have a fine 
field to exert his talents if the French fleet join 
the Spanish, after capturing Lisbon." 

On the morning of May 5, from the Rock 
of Gibraltar, Lord St. Vincent saw, with the 
deepest anxiety, the French fleet running before 
a westerly gale into the Mediterranean. His most 
immediate fear was lest Bruix should be on his 
way to help Bonaparte at Acre, and to overwhelm 
Sydney Smith's squadron. If so, the question 
was how to stop him. Lord Bridport s fleet was 
useless, as it was not until nearly four weeks later 
that he was able to send help. Lord Keith was 


The Peterel Sloop 

blockading Cadiz. If he left, the whole Spanish 
fleet would be released and at liberty to attack 
where they would. Nelson was at Palermo with 
only one British line-of-battle ship, and great would 
be the consternation in the town if that one ship 
were to be withdrawn. A small squadron was 
blockading Malta, and a few ships were at Minorca 
under Commodore Duckworth, but Port Mahon 
was not yet fully garrisoned. Troubridge was 
outside Naples. Bruix might attack any of these 
divisions with the full force of his fleet, or he 
might proceed straight to Egypt. St. Vincent 
had to determine which of these positions should 
be abandoned in order to meet the French fleet. 
He decided on ordering Keith into the Mediter- 
ranean so as to concentrate the available forces, 
sending word as far as possible to the outlying 

To Nelson at Palermo he wrote that he ex- 
pected the enemy to proceed to Malta and 
Alexandria. This despatch was entrusted to the 
Hyena, which fell in with the Peterel, now under 
the command of Francis Austen. The Peterel 
was already on the way to Nelson with a despatch 
from Minorca, and, being a fast-sailing sloop, the 
captain of the Hyena at once handed on the im- 
portant paper to be delivered by Captain Austen. 

The entries in the log of the Peterel at this date 
tell their own story : 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

^' May lo. — On the passage from Minorca to 

** 12 noon. — Offshore four or five miles. 

** 2 o'clock. — Answered the private signal made 
by a ship in the S.S.E. 

*'4 o'clock. — Showed our pendants to a ship in 
the S.S.E. 

"5 o'clock. — Joined H.M.S. Hyena; lowered 
the jolly-boat, and went on board. 

*' lo past 5. — Up boat and made all sail ; the 
Hyena parted company, standing to the N.W. 

''May 12. A quarter past 9. — Saw a sail on 
the lee bow, made the private signal to her, which 
was answered. Made the signal for having gained 
intelligence, and repeated it with four guns, but it 
was not answered. 

** 15 minutes past ii< — Hove to ; lowered the 
jolly-boat and went on board the stranger, which 
proved to be H.M.S. Pallas, with a convoy for 
the westward. 

** 20 minutes past 1 1 . — Up boat, filled, and made 
all sail as before. Observed the Pallas bear up 
and follow us with her convoy. 

''May 13. — At daylight, Cape Trepano (in 
Sicily). S.S.W. five or six leagues. 

'* A quarter-past 3 p.m. — Shortened sail, backed 
ship, hove to and lowered the boat. The first 
lieutenant went on shore with despatches for 
Lord Nelson at Palermo. 


The Peterel Sloop 

** A quarter before 4. — The boat returned, 
hoisted her up, and made all sail. 

** Note. — The place at which the first lieu- 
tenant landed was on the east side of the Bay, 
between Cape St. Vito and Cape Alos, and about 
twenty-four miles by road from Palermo." 

The following is the letter which Captain 
Austen sent to the Admiral, with the despatches : 

" Peterel at Sea, off Cape St. Vito, May 13, 1799. 

** My Lord, — I have the honour to inform your 
Lordship that I sailed from the Island of Minorca 
with his Majesty's sloop under my command, at 
II A.M. on Friday, the loth inst, charged with the 
accompanying despatch for your lordship, and the 
same evening met his Majesty's ship Hyena, 
about five leagues S.E. by S. of Fort Mahon, 
from the captain of which I received the paper 
enclosed ; and judging from the contents of it that 
its speedy arrival must be of the utmost conse- 
quence, and that a passage by land may be per- 
formed in much less time than by sea, with the 
wind as it now is at the E.S.E., I have directed 
Mr. Staines, my first lieutenant, to land with 
the despatch at Castella, and proceed with all 
possible expedition to your lordship at Palermo, 
to which place I shall carry his Majesty's sloop 
as soon as I can. 

*' I fell in with his Majesty s ship Pallas and 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

convoy yesterday at 1 1 a.m., about fifteen leagues 
E.S.E. of Cape Carbonera, and, in consequence 
of the Intelligence I gave the captain of that ship 
bore up with his convoy for Palermo. I enclose 
the state and condition of his Majesty's sloop 
under my command, and have the honour to 

'* My lord, 
** Your lordship's most obedient 
" humble servant, 

** Francis Wm. Austen. 

" To the Rt. Hon. Lord Nelson, K.B., 
Etc., etc., etc." 

''May 14. — At four o'clock hove to in Palermo 
Bay. The first lieutenant returned on board. 
At six o'clock filled and made all sail on the lar- 
board tack, pinnace ahead towing." 

Nelson was at this time short of small vessels 
by which to send news. He therefore employed 
the Peterel to go on to the blockading squadron 
off Malta with orders, which were delivered on 
board H.M.S. Goliath, about noon on May 19. 
The Peterel \}i\^vi returned to Minorca. 

Bruix, contrary to expectation, did nothing 
with his chance. Probably the aim of the 
Directory in sending him was to discover how 
far Spain was to be relied upon for support, and 
there may have been no intention of employing 




The Peterel Sloop 

him to help Bonaparte, but Brulx seems to 
have had a free hand in the matter, so that his 
own want of resolution and failure of insight are 
the apparent causes of the expedition proving 

The Spanish fleet came out of Cadiz, as was 
of course to be expected, and on May 30 
Bruix sailed eastward from Toulon, getting into 
communication with General Moreau at Genoa. 
The great matter was to keep the two fleets 
from combining, and this might be done by 
following the French fleet and beating it. Lord 
St. Vincent's health now entirely gave way, and 
he was obliged to give up the command to Keith, 
though it is probable he expected to have his 
advice still followed. Lord Keith sailed away in 
pursuit, but Bruix doubled on his tracks, and 
keeping close in shore repassed Toulon, and got 
down to Cartagena, where he met the Spanish 
fleet. Keith, instead of taking up the command- 
ing position earnestly recommended by St. Vin- 
cent, let his chance slip by going back to Minorca, 
which he supposed to be in danger, and thus the 
conjunction of the fleets took place. It was how- 
ever followed by no adverse results. Spain was 
lukewarm, and Bruix sailed back to Brest, having 
accomplished nothing but an addition of fifteen 
ships to his fleet, to serve as a pledge for the 
goodwill of the Spanish Government. Had Bruix 

65 E 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

joined Bonaparte instead of the Spanish fleet, 
very different results would almost certainly have 

The following proclamation will show clearly 
how important the support of Spain was felt to 
be, and how anxious Bruix was lest there should 
be any cause for disagreement. 

'* In the name of the French Republic. 

'' In the Road of Cartagena, on board the 

Admiral's sloop the Ocean, dated 24th June, 

in the seventh year of the French Republic, 

Eustace Bruix commanding the French 


** Frenchmen and Republicans, — At last, 

united with our faithful allies, we approach the 

period when we shall punish England and relieve 

Europe from all its tyranny. Although I have 

no doubt, my brave friends, of the sentiments 

which you have professed, I felt myself bound 

to call upon you to give proofs of their sincerity 

by every means in your power. Recollect that it 

is for the interests of your country, and for your 

own honour, to give to a nation, whom we esteem, 

the highest opinion of us. That word alone is 

enough for Frenchmen. Do not above all forget 

that you are come among a just and generous 

people, and our most faithful allies. Respect 

their customs, their usages, their religion. In a 


The Peterel Sloop 

word, let everything be sacred to us. Think the 
least departure from that which I am now pre- 
scribing to you will be a crime in the eyes of 
the Republic, for which it will be my duty to 
punish you. But, on the contrary, I am convinced 
that you will give me an opportunity of praising 
your conduct, and that will be the greatest re- 
compence I can receive. 

^* E. Bruix." 

Carrying Lord St. Vincent's letter to Nelson 
seems to have been the first service of im- 
portance which fell to the share of Captain Austen. 
Perhaps some description of the more ordinary 
happenings of the life on board of a sloop of war 
may prove of interest. The change from the 
position of First Lieutenant on board a ship of 
the line to that of the Captain of a small vessel 
must necessarily have been very marked. 

Towards the end of 1798 the Peterel had had 
the misfortune to be captured by the Spaniards, 
who treated the captain (Charles Long) and his 
crew very badly. The following day she was 
rescued by the Argo, under Captain Bowen. 
Francis Austen was then given the command, and 
on February 27 we find him taking over his 
new duties, the Peterel being then moored in 
Gibraltar Bay. 

The first few months were spent in cruising 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

about the west of the Mediterranean. Almost 
every day there was a pursuit of some vessel of 
more or less importance. Sometimes * ' the chace " 
proved to be a friendly craft, sometimes she got 
away, but not infrequently was captured and 
overhauled. On one occasion, Francis Austen 
remarks trenchantly, ** Our chace proved to be a 
tower on the land." 

Evidently the plan of procedure was always to 
follow up and find out the nationality of any dis- 
tant sail. If a friend, news was interchanged, and 
often some help might be given. If an enemy, an 
attack usually followed. One of these small en- 
counters is described in the log of the date March 
23, 1799, the Peterel then cruising off the south 
side of Majorca. 

** 1 1 o'clock. — Saw a latteen-sail boat, appearing 
to be a privateer, just within the western point of 
Cabrera. From the manoeuvres of this boat I judge 
her to be a privateer. When we first saw her she 
was on the starboard tack, and seemed to be exam- 
ining us. I could just distinguish her hull from 
the Catharpins. She appeared to be full of men. 
She was rigged with one large latteen sail, and 
might be about fifteen to twenty tons." 

This boat was evidently not to be seen again 
until " At a quarter past 3, perceived the chace 
run round a point of the island into a cove, under 
the protection of a castle situated on a high rock. 


The Peterel Sloop 

This was the same boat we saw in the forenoon. 
Our appearance had evidently frightened them, 
and they judged it prudent to keep snug till we 
were gone by, and, at the time they ventured out, 
supposed us too far off to distinguish them. It 
was, indeed, with difficulty that we could, as the 
distance was full three leagues, and their sail was 
nearly the same colour as the rock along which 
they were passing. 

" The cove or haven into which the boat went 
IS about three-quarters of a mile from the N.W. 
point of the island, and is completely land-locked 
by the two points which form it overlapping. We 
were close in, not more than a quarter of a mile 
from the westernmost of these points, but could 
get no ground with forty fathoms line. The castle 
is situated on a pinnacle rock or cliff on the eastern 
side of the entrance, and from its situation I should 
judge it difficult of access to an hostile approach. 
They had not more than two guns in it, and those 
were not more than four or six-pounders. Several 
of their shot went over us, and others fell within 
a few yards on each side of us, but not one struck 
the ship. Ours all went on shore, and I believe 
most of them struck the castle, but there was too 
much motion to fire with very great precision. 
This cove, from its situation, is a most excellent 
place of resort for small privateers, as they are 
secure from the effects of any wind, and can from 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

the height discover the approach of any vessel, 
and be ready to push out on them when they may 
be too close to the Island to effect their escape." 

With nightfall this attack had to be abandoned, 
and by six o'clock the next morning, March 24, 
the Peterel was In pursuit of another '' chace." 

" At a quarter past 8, hoisted out the pinnace 
and launch and sent them to board the chace. 

*'At 8 o'clock, I could discern with a glass 
the privateer, with his sail furled, laying In his 
oars, just within the west point of the cove, ready 
to pop out on the Spanish boat, and, but for our 
being so near, certainly would have recaptured 
her, but when our boats put off from the ship he 
went in again. 

"At 10 o'clock, the boats returned with the 
chace, which proved to be a Spanish coasting- 
vessel of 20 tons, from Cadiz bound to Barcelona 
with wheat, prize to the General Pigot, a privateer 
belonging to Gibraltar. Supplied him with a few 
baracoes of water. 

"At II o'clock, in boats and made sail on the 
larboard tack." 

This account of a twenty-four hours on board 
the Peterel will give some idea of the constant 
interest and continual demand on the judgment 
incidental to this life. This particular day, though 
a full one, was barren of results. The privateer 
got out of the way of the Peterel^ and the chace 


The Peterel Sloop 

which they did succeed in boarding had already 
surrendered to another British ship. The entries 
of a few days later, March 28, will show how 
varying was the success of these encounters. 
On that day they secured three prizes in twelve 

** 5 o'clock A.M., saw a strange sail bear S.W. 
by S. Bore up and set royal and steering sails 
in chace. 

** 8 o'clock. — Fresh breezes and clear weather ; 
came up with the chace close off the west end of 
Ivica. Shortened sail and hove to, sent a boat 
on board ; she proved to be a Spanish brig laden 
with barley, from Almeria bound to Barcelona. 
Sent an officer and eight men to take possession, 
and took all the Spaniards out of her. 

*' At 10 o'clock. — Took her in tow, and made 
sail to the eastward. 

" At half-past 10. — Saw a brig at the south 
part of Ivica, cast off the tow, and made all sail 
in chace. 

** Half-past II. — In steering sails. 

** At noon. — Moderate and clear weather, pass- 
ing through between Ivica and Formenterra, 
prize in company. 

** Half-past 12. — Fired five guns at the chace 
to make her bring to, but without effect. 

"At I o'clock. — She anchored close under a 
signal tower with four guns on it. Hoisted out 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

the pinnace, and sent her armed under the 
direction of the second lieutenant to board the 

** Half-past 2. — The pinnace returned with the 
brig ; sent her away to cut out a small vessel, 
which was then riding about half a mile to the 
westward of the tower. The brig appears to 
be French, but no one was found on board 
her. Sent an officer and five men to take charge 
of her. 

'* At 5 o'clock. — The pinnace returned with the 
other vessel, a Spanish settee, appearing by 
papers found on board to be the Alicant packet. 
Her crew had quitted her on seeing our boats 
approach. Sent an officer and five men on board 
to take charge of her. Took her in tow and made 
sail ; prizes in company." 

Such days as this were of quite frequent occur- 
rence. Sometimes the prizes were of great value, 
as on April ii, when the Peterel, in com- 
pany with the Powerful and the Leviathan, 
assisted in capturing a vessel which they thought 
to be a despatch-boat, and therefore of the first 
importance. She proved to be a fishing-boat, 
employed in carrying a brigadier-general, a lieu- 
tenant-colonel, and a captain of the Walloon 
Guards over to Ivica from Alicant. She had on 
board specie to the amount of 9000 dollars. The 
PetereHs share of this valuable prize was 1469 


The Peterel Sloop 

dollars, which was paid out in the following pro- 
portions : 

To a captain . 

. 750 dollars 

„ a lieutenant 

. 62i „ 

,, a warrant officer 

. 36I „ 

„ a petty officer . 

. loj „ 

„ a foremast man . 

2 „ 

It is to be feared that the prize-money was a 
doubtful blessing to the foremast hands, especially 
as th^ Peterel -wdiS then nearing Port Mahon, where 
they lay at anchor for three days, during which 
it was no doubt easy to incur the punishments for 
drunkenness and neglect of duty which we find 
meted out two days later. 

Another capture of political importance is de- 
tailed on the 26th April, when a Spanish tartan, 
the San Antonio de Padua, was brought to, having 
on board fifty-three soldiers belonging to a com- 
pany of the 3rd battalion of the Walloon Guards, 
who were being conveyed from Barcelona to 
Majorca. These, with sailors and a few recruits 
also on board, summed up a capture of seventy- 
nine Spanish prisoners, who were taken on board 
the Peterel. 

The tartan was manned by a midshipman and 
seven men, and taken in tow. The prisoners 
were afterwards transferred to the Centaur, and 
the prize, after everything was taken out of her, 
was scuttled. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

These few instances will serve to show the 
kind of life of which we get such tantaHsing hints 
in ** Persuasion." 

The account Captain Wentworth gives to the 
two Miss Musgroves and to Admiral Croft of his 
earlier commands is a case in point. The date 
is not the same, for we remember that Captain 
Wentworth first got employ in the year six 
(1806), soon after he had parted in anger from 
Anne Elliot. 

" The Miss Musgroves were just fetching the 
* Navy List ' (their own ' Navy List,' the first 
there had ever been at Uppercross), and sitting 
down together to pore over it, with the professed 
view of finding out the ships which Captain Went- 
worth had commanded. 

** ' Your first was the Asp, I remember. We 
will look for the Asp,' 

" ' You will not find her there. Quite worn out 
and broken up. I was the last man who com- 
manded her. Hardly fit for service then. Re- 
ported fit for home service for a year or two, and 
so I was sent oft to the West Indies.' 

'* The girls looked all amazement. 

** ' The Admiralty,' he continued, * entertain 
themselves now and then with sending a few hun- 
dred men to sea in a ship not fit to be employed. 
But they have a great many to provide for ; and 
among the thousands that may just as well go to 


The Peterel Sloop 

the bottom as not, It is impossible for them to 
distinguish the very set who may be least 

**'Phoo! phoo!' cried the Admiral. * What 
stuff these young fellows talk! Never was there 
a better sloop than the Asp in her day. For an 
old built sloop you would not see her equal. 
Lucky fellow to get her ! He knows there must 
have been twenty better men than himself apply- 
ing for her at the same time. Lucky fellow to 
get anything so soon, with no more interest than 

** * I felt my luck. Admiral, I assure you,' replied 
Captain Wentworth seriously. * I was as well 
satisfied with my appointment as you can desire. 
It was a great object with me at the time to be at 
sea ; a very great object. I wanted to be doing 

" * To be sure you did. What should a young 
fellow like you do ashore for half a year together ? 
If a man has not a wife, he soon wants to be 
afloat again.' 

** * But, Captain Wentworth,' cried Louisa, 
*how vexed you must have been when you came 
to the Asp, to see what an old thing they had 
given you.' 

" * I knew pretty well what she was before that 
day,' said he smiling. * I had no more discoveries 
to make than you would have as to the fashion 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

and strength of an old pelisse, which you had seen 
lent about among half your acquaintance ever 
since you could remember, and which at last on 
some very wet day is lent to yourself. Ah ! she 
was a dear old Asp to me. She did all I wanted. 
I knew she would. I knew that we should either 
go to the bottom together, or that she would be the 
making of me ; and I never had two days of foul 
weather all the time I was at sea in her ; and after 
taking privateers enough to be very entertaining, I 
had the good luck in my passage home the next 
autumn to fall in with the very French frigate I 
wanted. I brought her into Plymouth ; and here 
was another instance of luck. We had not been 
six hours in the Sound when a gale came on 
which lasted four days and four nights, and which 
would have done for poor old Asp in half the 
time, our touch with the Great Nation not having 
improved our condition. Four and twenty hours 
later and I should only have been a gallant Cap- 
tain Wentworth in a small paragraph at one 
corner of the newspapers ; and being lost in only 
a sloop, nobody would have thought about me.' 

** The girls were now hunting for the Laconia ; 
and Captain Wentworth could not deny himself 
the pleasure of taking the precious volume into 
his own hands to save them the trouble, and once 
more read aloud the little statement of her name 
and rate, and present non-commissioned class- 


The Peterel Sloop 

Observing over it that she too had been one of 
the best friends man ever had. 

'* 'Ah, those were pleasant days when I had the 
Laconia ! How fast I made money in her ! A 
friend of mine and I had such a lovely cruise to- 
gether off the Western Islands. Poor Harville, 
sister ! You know how much he wanted money : 
worse than myself. He had a wife. Excellent 
fellow ! I shall never forget his happiness. He 
felt it all so much for her sake. I wished for him 
again next summer, when I had still had the same 
luck in the Mediterranean.' " 

One cannot but feel, when one comes on such 
a conversation in Jane Austen's novel, how per- 
fectly she understood the details of her brothers' 
lives. Her interest and sympathy were so great 
that we can almost hear Francis and Charles re- 
counting experiences to their home circle, with a 
delicious dwelling on the dangers, for the sake of 
inward shudders, or "more open exclamations of 
pity and horror " from their hearers, with sidelong 
hits at the Admiralty, and with the true sailor's 
love of, and pride in, the vessels he has com- 




It will be remembered that at the close of 1796 
scarcely a British man-of-war was to be seen in 
the Mediterranean. To estimate the work that 
St. Vincent and Nelson had since accomplished, 
it is only necessary to say that by the summer of 
1799 the British Navy was everywhere, blockading 
Genoa and Malta, patrolling the Egyptian and 
Syrian coasts, and in possession of Minorca, 
while Nelson was stationed at Palermo. The 
French armies in Italy were cut off from re- 
inforcements by our ships before Genoa. Bona- 
parte's soldiers in Egypt were equally helpless, 
though he himself managed to get home in spite 
of the danger of capture. 

Attempts were of course made by the French 
to change this position. Rear-Admiral Perree 
had served on the immense fleet which Bonaparte 
took to Egypt in 1798, and there was appointed 
to the command of the light flotilla intended to 
patrol the Nile. Most of his seniors were shortly 


The Patrol of the Mediterranean 

afterwards killed or captured by Nelson's fleet in 
Aboukir Bay, and he then took charge of the 
remaining frigates which had safely anchored at 
Alexandria, and which were compelled to remain 
there, as Captain Troubridge had established a 
blockade of the coast. When Bonaparte marched 
for Syria, early in 1799, Perree was ordered to 
bring battering cannon to Haifa for the attack on 
Acre. It was some time before he got the oppor- 
tunity to slip out of Alexandria, and he then 
found Jaffa the only place available for landing 
the guns. Accomplishing this, he vainly endea- 
voured to co-operate in the siege of Acre, but was 
driven off by the Tigre and Theseus under Sir 
Sydney Smith. The blockade made it impossible 
for Perr6e to re-enter Alexandria. The five 
vessels therefore sailed for Toulon, and on 
June 18 we have in the log of the Peterel the 
account of the capture of this unlucky squadron, 
within a few hours of their French haven. 

June 17. — ** Admiral (Lord Keith) and fleet in 
company. The Emerald made signal for five sail 
in sight. The Admiral signalled for general chace. 
Answered his signal to us to keep between the 
Admiral and the chacing ships in N.E., to repeat 
signals. At 8 p.m. Emerald N.E., six or seven 
miles. Admiral west, four miles. 

June 18. — *'One o'clock p.m. Saw four sail bear- 
ing N.W. At six, five sail of strangers in sight. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

At seven, perceived the Centaur open a fire on 
the chace, which was returned. Saw two of them 
strike and shorten sail. Half-past seven, the 
Emerald got up with, and took possession of, 
another. At eight o'clock the Centaur brought 
to a fourth. The Success and the Triton in chace 
of the fifth. 

June 19. — ''At daylight, ten of the fleet and 
five prizes in company. Boats of the fleet em- 
ployed on the 19th getting the prisoners out of 
the prizes. These ships proved to be a squadron 
which had escaped out of Alexandria on the 19th 
of March, and, after cruising a considerable time 
off Joppa, were returning to Toulon. Their names 
are as follows : 

Lajunon . 

38 guns, 600 men (with a Rear-Admiral 

on board). 

VAIceste . 

36 guns. 

La Courageuse . 

32 guns, 300 men. 

VAlerte . 

i6-gun brig. 

La Salamine 

i6-gun ditto." 

Marshal Suwarrow, in command of the Russian 
and Austrian armies, was now making use of 
Bonaparte's enforced detention in Egypt to drive 
the French out of Italy. By June, after the 
battle of the Trebbia, he had not only shut 
up Moreau's army in Genoa, but had driven 
Macdonald back into Tuscany. It was only 
with the greatest difficulty that the two French 


The Patrol of the Mediterranean 

commanders were able eventually to join forces in 
Genoa. With characteristic want of confidence in 
their generals, the French Directory sent out 
General Joubert to take command in the place 
of the two who had been worsted. Almost 
immediately after his arrival, he was himself 
utterly defeated and killed at the battle of Novi. 
Nothing was left of the French possessions in 
Italy except Genoa, and a few smaller fortified 
places. To Genoa Massena came after his suc- 
cessful exploits in Switzerland, and made his 
memorable stand, against the Austrian army 
besieging by land and the British blockading 
by sea. 

With these events during 1799 and 1800, the 
Peterel was in constant touch. On one occasion, 
off Savona, a vessel was taken containing two 
hundred and fifty wounded soldiers, who were 
being conveyed from Genoa back to France after 
the indecisive battle of the Trebbia. On this 
Captain Austen remarks, ''As many of them 
were in such a state as not to be moved but at 
the risque of their lives. Captain Caulfield (of 
the Aurora), from motives of humanity, let the 
vessel proceed." 

Another capture shows how much the French 
were hampered by our blockade, their general 
being unable to reach his army excepting by sea. 
In Francis Austen's own words : 

8r F 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

August 2, 1799. — " Last night at 9 p.m. the 
Minerves boats came alongside ; sent them along 
with our own, armed, under the command of the 
first lieutenant to cut out some vessels from the 
Bay of Diano. 

** About midnight saw a very heavy fire of 
cannon and musketry in Diano Bay. Towards 
dawn the boats returned on board, having brought 
out a large settee laden with wine, and a French 
armed half-galley, mounting six guns, and rowing 
twenty-six oars. This galley had lately arrived 
from Toulon with General Joubert, appointed to 
supersede Moreau in the command of the French 
army of Italy, and was to have proceeded to-day 
with the general to the headquarters, near Genoa. 
She was manned with thirty-six people, twenty of 
which jumped overboard and swam ashore as 
soon as our boats attacked them. The other 
sixteen were made prisoners, amongst which was 
the commander of her, having the rank of ensign 
de vaisseau in the service of the Republic. The 
vessel is called La Virginie^ is Turkish built, and 
was taken by the French at Malta when they got 
possession of that place last year." 

Another time the chace is described as follows : 

July 14. — ''This vessel proved to be the El 
Fortunato Spanish ship polacre of about 100 
tons burden, from Cagllari bound to Oneglia, 
laden with wine, and having on board an officer 


The Patrol of the Mediterranean 

charged with despatches from the King of Sar- 
dinia to General Suwarrow, Commander-in-Chief 
of the combined armies of Russia and Austria in 

The autumn and winter of 1 799 were spent by 
the Peterel cruising again in the west of the 
Mediterranean, chiefly off Minorca ; but in the 
spring of 1800 they were again near Marseilles. 
The capture of the French brig La Ligurienne, 
described in the following letter, is another 
witness to the fruitless attempts of the French to 
get help to the army which Bonaparte had left 
behind in Egypt. 

" Peterel at Sea, March 22, 1800. 

" Sir, — I have to inform you that the vessels 
with which you saw me engaged yesterday after- 
noon near Cape Couronne, were a ship, brig, and 
xebecque, belonging to the French Republic ; two 
of which, the ship and xebecque, I drove on shore, 
and, after a running action of about one hour and 
a half, during the most of which we were not 
more than two cables length from the shore, and 
frequently not half that distance, the third struck 
her colours. On taking possession, we found her 
to hQ La Lzgurzenne, French national brig, mount- 
ing fourteen six-pounders, and two thirty-six- 
pound howitzers, all brass, commanded by Fran9ois 
Auguste Pelabon, lieutenant de vaisseau, and 
had on board at the commencement of the action 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

one hundred and four men. Though from the 
spirited conduct and alacrity of Lieutenant Packer, 
Mr. Thompson, the master, and Mr. Hill, the 
purser (who very handsomely volunteered his ser- 
vices at the main deck guns), joined to the gal- 
lantry and determined courage of the rest of the 
officers, seamen and marines of his Majesty's 
sloop under my command, I was happily enabled 
to bring the contest to a favourable issue ; yet I 
could not but feel the want, and regret the absence, 
of my first lieutenant, Mr. Glover, and thirty men, 
who were at the time away in prizes. I have a 
lively pleasure in that this service has been per- 
formed without a man hurt on our part, and with 
no other damage to the ship than four of our 
carronades dismounted, and a few shots through 
the sails. La Ligurienne is a very fine vessel of 
the kind, well equipped with stores of all sorts, 
in excellent repair, and not two years old. She 
is built on a peculiar plan, being fastened through- 
out with screw bolts, so as to be taken to pieces 
and put together with ease, and is said to have 
been intended to follow Bonaparte to Egypt. I 
learn from the prisoners that the ship is called Le 
Cerf, mounting fourteen six-pounders, xebecque 
Le Joillet, mounting six six-pounders, and that 
they had sailed in company with a convoy (two of 
which, as per margin, I captured in the forenoon) 
that morning from Cette, bound to Marseilles. I 


The Patrol of the Mediterranean 

enclose a return of the killed and wounded, as far 
as I have been able to ascertain it, 

** And am, your very humble servant, 

" Francis Wm. Austen. 

** To Robert Dudley Oliver, Esq., 

** Captain of H.M. Ship Mermaid, 

" Return of killed and wounded in an action 
between his Britannic Majesty's sloop Peterely 
Francis Wm. Austen, Esq., Commander, and the 
French national brig La Ligurienne, commanded 
by Fran9ois Auguste Pelabon, lieutenant de 

'' Peterel: Killed, none; wounded, none. 

^' La Ligurienne : Killed, the captain and one 
seaman ; wounded, one gardemarin and one 

''(Signed) Francis Wm. Austen." 

The captures, **as per margin," are of a French 
bark, name unknown, about two hundred and fifty 
tons, and of a French bombarde. La Vestic, about 
one hundred and fifty tons, both laden with wheat, 
and both abandoned by their crews on the Petered s 

If, as is stated. La Ligurienne was intended to 
go to Egypt, it seems not improbable that the 
reason for her peculiar construction was that she 
might be taken to pieces, carried across the 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

desert, and launched again in the Red Sea, there 
to take part in an attempt on India. 

This exploit, though related in a matter-of-fact 
way by Captain Austen in his letter, was not in- 
considerable in the eyes of the authorities, and 
the result was his immediate promotion to post 
rank. He himself knew nothing of this advance- 
ment until the following October; only an instance 
of the slowness and difficulty of communication, 
which was so great a factor in the naval affairs of 
that time. 

It should be mentioned that the frigate Mer- 
maid was in sight during part of this action, 
which perhaps had something to do with the two 
French vessels running themselves ashore, also 
that the capture of La Ligurienne was within six 
miles of Marseilles. The Peterel took her three 
prizes to Minorca, where the prisoners were sent 
on board the Courageuse, one of Perrde's frigates 
captured in 1799 as already described. 

The next voyage was to Malta, where the for- 
tress of Valetta was still in French hands, with a 
few ships under the command of Rear-Admiral 
Villeneuve. The British blockading squadron 
had just taken the Guillaume Tellm the endeavour 
to escape from Valetta harbour, after eighteen 
months' stay. This ship of the line was the only 
one remaining to the French from Bonapartes 
expedition to Egypt and the Battle of the Nile. 


The Patrol of the Mediterranean 

The P^/^r^/ took on board, in the Bay of Marsa 
Sirocco, thirty-five of the crew of the Guillaume 
Tell, by orders of Commodore Troubridge of the 
CullodeUy and with these prisoners made sail for 
Palermo, where for a few days she hoisted Nelson's 
flag. Arrived once more at Port Mahon, in 
Minorca, the French sailors were added to the 
number on the Courageuse, and the Peterel found 
her way to Lord Keith's fleet, now closely invest- 
ing General Massena in Genoa. 

The great events of the campaign of Marengo 
are matters of European history. The British 
fleet's blockade of the coast was clearly a deter- 
mining factor in the choice of the St. Bernard 
route by the First Consul, inasmuch as the 
Riviera road was commanded from the sea. It 
must remain a question whether Bonaparte deli- 
berately left Massena's army to risks of starvation 
and capture, in order that the destruction of the 
Austrian forces in Piedmont might be complete. 
Massena had been compelled to extend his lines 
too far, so that he might secure from a moun- 
tainous country the supplies which could not 
reach him from France. This made it possible 
for the Austrians to press their advantage, and to 
isolate the fortresses of Nice, Savona, and Genoa. 
The unceasing patrol of the sea completed the 
circle of hostile forces. The French army was 
entirely shut up in Genoa, and throughout the 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

month of May the town was several times bom- 
barded by the ships and the armed boats of the 
fleet. These armed boats had already reduced the 
small garrison of Savona. It Is recorded in the 
Peterel log that a **polacre laden with artillery 
and ammunition for the army of General Baron 
d'Ott " came from that port. The Peterel was 
detailed by Lord Keith to cruise in shore as near 
as possible to Genoa, and Captain Austen received 
the thanks of this Admiral for his energetic per- 
formance of that duty. One night the vessel was 
under fire from the lighthouse forts, and received 
several shots. A feature of the blockade was the 
plan of ''rowing guard" each night, in order to 
prevent access to the harbour after dark. The 
Peterel^s pinnace was frequently on this duty in 
turn with the other boats of the fleet, and took 
part in cutting out the Prima galley after mid- 
night on the 2 1 St of May. This galley was 
intended to take part in an attempt on the smaller 
vessels of the British fleet, but was attacked by 
the boats^ crews at the Mole when just ready to 
come out. She was boarded in the most gallant 
manner, in spite of a large force of fighting men 
on board, and of a heavy fire from the harbour 
forts. The capture was greatly helped by the 
conduct of the 300 galley slaves, who rowed out 
so fast that they almost outstripped the boats that 
were towing her. These slaves were allowed on 


The Patrol of the Mediterranean 

deck when the prize was out of gunshot range 
from the harbour, and great were their manifesta- 
tions of joy at their release. The sequel of the 
incident was tragic. Lord Keith sent most of 
them back to Genoa with the other French 
prisoners, no doubt with the idea of forcing their 
support on the half-starved garrison. The galley 
slaves were shot as traitors in the market-place. 

During the preliminary conference with General 
d'Ott and Lord Keith, preceding the French sur- 
render at Genoa, it is said that some contempt 
for Austria was expressed by Massena, who went 
on as follows : " Milord, si jamais la France et 
TAngleterre s'entendre, elles gouverneraient la 
monde." This almost foreshadows the ** entente 
cordiale " of 1904. 

On June 4 the French army capitulated. Genoa 
town was handed over to the Austrians under 
General Melas, and the port was occupied by Lord 
Keith in his flagship Minotaur. 

But already the First Consul had descended 
into Italy, had taken possession of Milan, and 
was in full march to defeat Baron d'Ott at 
Montebello. On the 14th Marengo was fought, 
and the tide of fortune turned. Genoa, Savona, 
and all the fortresses of Piedmont were made 
over to the French. Massena came back on 
June 24, and Lord Keith had just time to 
move out of the harbour and to resume his 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

blockade. The victorious First Consul was again 
in full possession of Northern Italy. 

Before the end of May the Peterel was already 
on her way southward, and the log records the 
transport of thirty-two men to H.M.S. Guillaume 
Tell (recently captured) off Syracuse, then another 
call at Malta (St. Paul's Bay) where the blockaders 
were busy with the later stages of the reduction 
of Valetta. The destination of the Peterel was 
the coast of Egypt, where Sir Sydney Smith was 
locally in command. Alexandria and other har- 
bours were still held by the French, now quite 
cut off from outside support. A Turkish fleet of 
twelve ships was at anchor off Alexandria, and 
the blockade was supposed to be maintained by 
them, but in actual practice the burden devolved 
upon the three British vessels, Tigre, Transfer y 
and Peterel They appear to have joined forces 
at Jaffa, and to have cruised off the Egyptian 
coast, with an occasional visit to Cyprus, for some 
months. They were all this time without news 
from England. 

The allied fleets of France and Spain were by 
no means inactive, and, though they did not 
accomplish much in the Mediterranean, there was 
always a serious risk for a single vessel, and 
despatch-boats were particularly unsafe carrying, 
as they did, intelligence that might be useful to 
the enemy. At this time the Spanish ports in 


The Patrol of the Mediterranean 

the neighbourhood of Gibraltar were strongly 
held, and it was a great object with the British 
Government to relieve this pressure, which seri- 
ously threatened their communications with the 
whole of the Mediterranean. Algeciras was spe- 
cially dangerous, and we find constant attacks upon 
the enemy there, in which Charles Austen as 
Lieutenant of the Endymion had a considerable 
part, under Sir Thomas Williams and his successor 
Captain Philip Durham. His service was varied 
by the capture of several privateers, among others 
of La Furze, The Endymion afterwards convoyed 
ten Indiamen home from St. Helena, for which 
service Captain Durham received the thanks of 
the East India Company. On the occasion of 
the capture of the Scipio, Lieutenant Charles 
Austen specially distinguished himself The en- 
counter took place in a violent gale, but, in spite 
of wind and weather, he put off in a boat with 
only four men, and boarded the vessel, which had 
just surrendered. The Scipio was a fine craft of 
1 8 guns, manned by 140 men. 

Charles was particularly lucky at this time in 
his shares of prize-money. Jane tells us in one 
of her letters to Cassandra how generously he 
spent it. 

"Charles has received ;^30 for his share of the 
privateer, and expects £\o more ; but of what 
avail is it to take prizes if he lays out the produce 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

in presents for his sisters ? He has been buying 
gold chains and topaz crosses for us. He must be 
well scolded. I shall write again by this post to 
thank and reproach him. We shall be unbearably 

It is a good instance of the way in which Jane 
Austen '' worked up " her incidents that the 
brother's present of a cross and a gold chain 
should form the groundwork on which is built up 
the story of Fanny's flutterings of heart over her 
adornments for the ball at Mansfield. 

**The *how she should be dressed' was a point 
of painful solicitude ; and the almost solitary orna- 
ment in her possession, a very pretty amber cross 
which William had brought her from Sicily, was 
the greatest distress of all, for she had nothing 
but a bit of riband to fasten it to ; and though 
she had worn it in that manner once, would it be 
allowable at such a time, in the midst of all the 
rich ornaments which she supposed all the other 
young ladies would appear in ? And yet not to 
wear it ! William had wanted to buy her a gold 
chain too, but the purchase had been beyond his 
means, and therefore not to wear the cross might 
be mortifying to him. These were anxious con- 
siderations ; enough to sober her spirits even 
under the prospect of a ball given principally for 
her gratitfication." 

Then follows Miss Crawford's gift of a necklace 


t^.M ikM 





.c ,€:••»< 

The Patrol of the Mediterranean 

to wear with the cross, with all its alarming associa- 
tions with Henry Crawford ; then Edmund's gift 
of a chain ; her resolve to wear Miss Crawford's 
gift to please him ; and lastly the delightful dis- 
covery that the necklace was too large for the 
purpose. Edmund's chain, ** therefore, must be 
worn ; and having, with delightful feelings, joined 
the chain and the cross, those memorials of the 
two most beloved of her heart ; those dearest 
tokens so formed for each other by everything 
real and imaginary, and put them round her neck, 
and seen and felt how full of William and Edmund 
they were, she was able, without an effort, to 
resolve on wearing Miss Crawford's necklace too. 
She acknowledged it to be right. Miss Crawford 
had a claim ; and when it was no longer to en- 
croach on, to interfere with the stronger claims, 
the truer kindness of another, she could do her 
justice even with pleasure to herself. The neck- 
lace really looked very well ; and Fanny left her 
room at last, comfortably satisfied with herself and 
all about her." 




The truism that absence strengthens more ties 
than it weakens is clearly demonstrated by the 
letters of the Austen family. In spite of the diffi- 
culty of sending letters, and the doubt of their 
reaching England, the brothers managed to get 
news through whenever it was possible. To know 
that their efforts were appreciated one has only to 
read how every scrap of this news was sent from 
one sister to the other in the constant letters they 
interchanged on those rare occasions when they 
were parted. The Austen family had always a 
certain reserve in showing affection, but the feel- 
ing which appears in this longing for tidings, in 
the gentle satires on small failings or transient 
love-affairs of their brothers, combined with the 
occasional ** dear Frank" or "dear Charles," 
was one which stood the test of time, and 
was transmitted to the brothers' children in 
a way that made the names of "Aunt Jane" 
and "Aunt Cassandra" stand for all that was 


At Home and Abroad 

lovable in the thoughts of their nephews and 

The scarcity of letters must have been a severe 
trial. Just at this time, when those at home knew 
of Frank's promotion, and he had as yet no idea 
of it, the longing to send and receive news must 
have been very great. He was hard at work in 
the summer of 1800 with Sir Sydney Smith's 
squadron off Alexandria. From there, early in 
July, he wrote to Cassandra. This letter was 
received at Steventon on November i, when 
Cassandra was at Godmersham with Edward, so 
Jane sent her word of its arrival. '* We have at 
last heard from Frank ; a letter from him to you 
came yesterday, and I mean to send it on as soon 
as I can get a ditto (that means a frank), which 
I hope to do in a day or two. En attendant, you 
must rest satisfied with knowing that on the 8th 
of July the Peterel with the rest of the Egyptian 
squadron was off the Isle of Cyprus, whither they 
went from Jaffa for provisions, &c., and whence 
they were to sail in a day or two for Alexandria, 
there to await the English proposals for the eva- 
cuation of Egypt. The rest of the letter, accord- 
ing to the present fashionable style of composi- 
tion, is chiefly descriptive. Of his promotion he 
knows nothing ; of prizes he is guiltless." 

An event which would no doubt have made a 
point of interest in this letter happened the day 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

after it was sent, but is recorded in the log for 
July 9 : 

** Received two oxen and fifty-two gallons of 
wine, being the PetereFs portion of a present from 
the Governor of the Island." 

The same letter from Jane to her sister con- 
tains news of Charles, who had been at home 
comparatively lately, and was on the Endymion, 
which was '* waiting only for orders, but may wait 
for them perhaps a month." Three weeks later 
he was at home again. 

'* Naughty Charles did not come on Tuesday, 
but good Charles came yesterday morning. About 
two o'clock he walked in on a Gosport hack. His 
feeling equal to such a fatigue is a good sign, and 
his feeling no fatigue a still better. He walked 
down to Deane to dinner, he danced the whole 
evening, and to-day is no more tired than a gentle- 
man ought to be. Your desiring to hear from me 
on Sunday will, perhaps, bring you a more parti- 
cular account of the ball than you may care for, 
because one is prone to think more of such things 
the morning after they happen, than when time 
has entirely driven them out of one's recollection. 

**Itwas a pleasant evening; Charles found it 
remarkably so, but I cannot tell why, unless the 
absence of Miss Terry, towards whom his con- 
science reproaches him with being now perfectly 
indifferent, was a relief to him. 


At Home and Abroad 

'* Summers has made my gown very well indeed, 
and I get more and more pleased with it. Charles 
does not like it, but my father and Mary do. My 
mother is very much resigned to it, and as for 
James he gives it the preference over everything 
of the kind he ever saw, in proof of which I am 
desired to say that if you like to sell yours Mary 
will buy it. 

" Farewell ! Charles sends you his best love, 
and Edward his worst. If you think the distinction 
improper, you may take the worst yourself. He 
will write to you when he gets back to his ship, 
and in the meantime desires that you will consider 
me as your affectionate sister J. A. 

** P.S. Charles is in very good looks indeed. . . . 

** I rejoice to say that we have just had another 
letter from our dear Frank. It is to you, very 
short, written from Larnaca in Cyprus, and so 
lately as October 2nd. He came from Alexan- 
dria, and was to return there in three or four days, 
knew nothing of his promotion, and does not 
write above twenty lines, from a doubt of the 
letter's ever reaching you, and an idea of all letters 
being opened at Vienna. He wrote a few days 
before to you from Alexandria by the Mercury, 
sent with despatches to Lord Keith. Another 
letter must be owing to us besides this, one if not 
two ; because none of these are for me." 

The scenes of home life which these extracts 

97 G 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

give us form a strong contrast to the readings in 
the log of the Peterel between the dates of Frank's 
two letters. 

In spite of the fact that viewed as a whole this 
was a breathing space between engagements, each 
side standing back to recover and to watch for the 
next movement on the part of the other, yet, in 
detail, it was a time of activity. 

Now and then, in the log, occurs the chace of a 
germe (or djerm) carrying supplies for the 
French, and a boat expedition is organised to cut 
out one or two of these craft, from an inlet where 
they had taken refuge. 

*' At twelve the boats returned without the germe, 
having perceived her to be under the protection 
of a field piece and a body of soldiers." Next day 
one was captured *' with only 17 bales of tobacco 
on board" (Captain Austen was not a smoker). 
Then *' condemned by survey the remaining part 
of the best bower cable as unserviceable." ** Held 
a survey on and condemned a cask of rice." ** The 
senior lieutenant was surveyed by the surgeons of 
the squadron and found to be a fit object for 

The next incident is described in the following 

report : 

^* Peterel, off Alexandria, ^w^ws^ 14, 1800. 

'* Sir, — On the morning of the loth, the day 
subsequent to my parting with the Tigre, I joined 


At Home and Abroad 

the Turkish squadron off this place, consisting of 
one ship of the line, and three corvettes under the 
command of Injee Bey, captain of the gallies, 
with whom I concerted on the most proper distri- 
bution of the force left with him. It was finally 
agreed that one corvette should be stationed off 
Aboukir, a second off Alexandria, and the third off 
the Tower of Marabout, the line-of-battle ship and 
the /*^/f^r^/ occasionally to visit the different points 
of the station as we might judge fit. It blowing 
too hard to admit of any germes passing, I 
thought it advisable to stretch to the westward as 
far as the Arab's Tower, off which I continued 
till the afternoon of the 12th, when I stood back 
to the eastward, and was somewhat surprised to 
see none of the Turkish squadron off Alexandria. 
At 8 o'clock the following morning, having an 
offing of three or four leagues, I stood in for the 
land, and in about an hour saw three of the 
Turkish ships a long way to the Eastward, and 
the fourth, which proved to be the line-of-battle 
ship, laying totally dismasted, on the Reef, about 
halfway between the Castle and Island of Aboukir. 
Thinking it possible, from what little I knew of 
Aboukir Bay, to get the Peterel within gunshot 
of her, and by that means to disperse the swarm 
of germes which surrounded her, and whose crews 
I could plainly discern busy in plundering, I stood 
in round the east side of the island, and anchored 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

in quarter less four fathoms, a long gun-shot dis- 
tance from her, and sent Mr. Thompson, the 
master, in the pinnace to sound in a direction 
towards her, in order to ascertain whether it was 
practicable to get any nearer with the ship, and if 
he met with no resistance (the germes having all 
made sail before we anchored) to board and set 
fire to the wreck. Though it blew very strong, 
and the boat had to row nearly two miles, almost 
directly to windward, yet by the great exertions of 
the officers and boat's crew, in an hour and twenty 
minutes I had the satisfaction of seeing the wreck 
in a perfect blaze, and the boat returning. Mr. 
Thompson brought back with him thirteen Greek 
sailors, part of the crew, and one Arab left in their 
hurry by the germes. 

** From the Greeks I collected that the ship 
went on shore while in the act of wearing about 
9 o'clock on the night of the nth, that about 
half the crew had been taken on board the cor- 
vettes, and the Bey, with the principal part of the 
officers and the rest of the crew, having surren- 
dered to the French, had landed the next evening 
at Aboukir. At the time we stood in, the French 
had 300 men at work on board the wreck, endea- 
vouring to save the guns, but had only succeeded 
in landing one from the quarter-deck. 

*' Shortly after my anchoring I sent an officer 
to the corvette, which had followed us in, and an- 


At Home and Abroad 

chored near to us, to inform their commander what 
I proposed doing, and to desire the assistance of 
their boats in case of resistance from any persons 
who might be remaining on board the wreck, a 
demand which they did not think proper to comply 
with, alleging that, as all the cloathes, &c., had 
been landed, there was nothing of value remaining, 
and besides that it would be impossible to get on 
board, as the French had a guard of soldiers in 

** I cannot sufficiently praise the zeal and acti- 
vity with which Mr. Thompson and the nine men 
with him performed this service, by which I trust 
the greatest part, if not all, of the guns, and other 
useful parts of the wreck, have been prevented 
from falling into the hands of the enemy. The 
thirteen Greeks I sent on board one of the Turkish 
corvettes, and intend, as soon as I have commu- 
nication with the shore, to land the Arab. 
** I have the honour to be. Sir, 

*' Your obedient servant, 

" Francis Wm. Austen. 

" To Sir Sydney Smith, K.S., 

" Senior officer of H.M. Ships and Vessels 
"employed in the Levant." 

The French were quite ready to take possession 
of all that the predatory Arab germes were likely 
to leave on board the Turkish line-of- battle ship. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

There was of course much less difficulty in getting 
the Peterel into Aboukir Bay than in navigating 
the larger corvettes of the Turks ; but, where 
Nelson had brought in his fleet, before the Battle 
of the Nile, there was water enough for any vessel, 
if properly handled. 

The following letters give the conclusion of the 
matter : 

•♦ His Britannic Majesty's Sloop Peterel, off Alexandria, 

"August 1 6, 1800. 

**SiR, — I avail myself of the present flag to set 
on shore with an unconditional release eleven 
Arabs, prisoners of war. Should it be not incon- 
sistent with the instructions you may be acting 
under, the release of an equal number of the sub- 
jects of the Sublime Porte will be considered as 
a fair return. 

'* I have the honour to be, &c., 
" Your obedient servant, 

** F. W. Austen. 
** To General Lanusse, 

** Commandant of Alexandria." 

" Peterel, off Alexandria, August 7. 

" Sir, — The King George transport is this 
morning arrived here from Rhodes, and as I find, 
by the report of the master, that the object of his 
mission in landing the powder has not been accom- 
plished, I shall send him off directly with orders to 


At Home and Abroad 

follow you agreeable to given rendezvous. ... I 
enclose herewith a letter received five days ago by 
a Turkish transport from Jaffa ; one from myself 
containing the particulars of the loss of the 
Turkish line-of-battle ship, a copy of my letter 
to General Lanusse, which accompanied the Arabs 
on shore yesterday (the first day since my leaving 
the TtgrCy that the weather has been sufficiently 
moderate to admit of communicating with the 
shore), and lastly a letter from the Vizir, which I 
received yesterday from Jaffa by a Turkish felucca. 
As the weather becomes more settled I hope to 
annoy the germes, though I must not count on 
any support or assistance from the Turks, as 
Injee Bey, when I first joined him, declared he 
had received directions from the Capitan Pacha 
not to molest them. Two of the corvettes are 
gone to join the Capitan Pacha, but this I learnt 
only two days after they went. The officer who 
accompanied the flag yesterday could not obtain 
any certain intelligence of Captain Boyle and his 
people, for in answer to his inquiries he was told 
they were still at or near Cairo. 

** I have the honour to be, &c. 

"To Sir Wm. Sydney Smith, K.S., 

" Senior officer of H.M. Ships and Vessels 
" employed in the Levant." 

This Capitan Pacha was a man of some note. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

His career is an example of the inefficacy of the 
greatest talents under such a government as that 
of Turkey. He was in every way an able man — 
strong and determined — considering all circum- 
stances not to be called cruel — enlightened in his 
ideas. His chief lack was that of education, but 
he was anxious to learn from all. He had great 
respect for Europeans and sympathy with their 
outlook. Altogether, though he did a great work 
for the Turkish navy — improving the construction 
of the ships — taking care that the officers should 
be properly educated, and drawing the supply of 
men from the best possible sources, and all this in 
a country where reform seemed a hopeless task, 
yet, so great was the power of his personality, that 
one is more surprised that he did so little than that 
he did so much. 

The Captain Courtney Boyle spoken of in this 
letter was evidently an acquaintance of the family, 
as we find him mentioned in one of Jane's letters. 
His ship, the Cormorant, had been wrecked on the 
Egyptian coast, and the whole crew made prisoners 
by the French. He must have obtained his 
release very shortly afterwards, for the following 
letter from Jane to Cassandra was clearly written 
when the family at Steventon were looking for- 
ward to Frank's return, but before they had direct 
news from himself : 

''I should not have thought it necessary to write 


At Home and Abroad 

to you so soon, but for the arrival of a letter from 
Charles to myself. It was written last Saturday 
from off the Start, and conveyed to Popham Lane 
by Captain Boyle, on his way to Midgham. He 
came from Lisbon in the Endymion, I will copy 
Charles's account of his conjectures about Frank : 
* He has not seen my brother lately, nor does he 
expect to find him arrived, as he met Captain Inglis 
at Rhodes, going up to take command of the Peterel 
as he was coming down ; but supposes he will arrive 
in less than a fortnight from this time, in some ship 
which is expected to reach England about that 
time with despatches from Sir Ralph Aber- 
crombie.' The event must show what sort of a 
conjurer Captain Boyle is. The Endymion has 
not been plagued with any more prizes. Charles 
spent three pleasant days in Lisbon. When this 
letter was written, the Endymion was becalmed, 
but Charles hoped to reach Portsmouth by Monday 
or Tuesday. He received my letter, communi- 
cating our plans, before he left England ; was 
much surprised, of course, but is quite reconciled 
to them, and means to come to Steventon once 
more while Steventon is ours." 

Captain Charles Inglis, who was to succeed 
Francis Austen, had served as lieutenant in the 
Penelope, and specially distinguished himself in 
the capture of the Guillaume Tell. 

While these conjectures as to Frank's where- 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

abouts and the possible date of his return were 
passing between his relations at home, he had 
been still pursuing the ordinary round of duties 
such as are described in this letter, quite ignorant 
until the actual event of any approaching change 
either for them or for himself. 

''Sir, — I have to inform you that I anchored 
with his Majesty's sloop under my command at 
Larnaca on the evening of the ist instant, where 
I completed my water, and purchased as much 
wine as the ship would stow, but was not able to 
procure any bread, as from the great exports of 
corn which have been lately made to supply the 
Vizir's army in Syria, the inhabitants are almost 
in a state of famine. I sailed from Larnaca the 
evening of the 6th, and anchored here on the 9th 
at noon. As I had only five days' bread on board 
I have judged it proper to take on board 50 
quintals of that which had been prepared for the 
Tigre, and not being acquainted with the price 
agreed on, have directed the purser to leave a 
certificate with the Dragoman of the Porte, for the 
quantity received, that it may be included with 
the Tigres vouchers, and settled for with the 
purser of that ship. 

'* The Governor of Nicosia made application to 
me yesterday in the name of the Capitan Pacha 
for assistance to enable him to get a gun on shore 


At Home and Abroad 

from one of the gun-boats which has been wrecked 
here, which, tho' I knew would detain me a day, 
I thought it right to comply with ; the gun 
has been to-day got on shore, and I am now going 
to weigh. I propose stretching more towards 
Alexandria if the wind is not very unfavourable, 
and should I find no counter orders, shall after- 
wards put in execution the latter part of yours of 
the 23 rd ult. 

'* I have directed the captain of the Kir ling 
Geek, which I found here on my arrival without 
orders, to wait till the i6th for the arrival of the 
Tigre, when, if not otherwise directed, to proceed 
to Rhodes, and follow such orders or information 
as he may obtain there. 

** I have the honor to be, &c., 

" To Sir Sydney Smith." 

'* The latter part of yours of the 23rd " possibly 
refers to instructions to proceed to Rhodes, for 
we find in the log that the Peterel went on there 
early in October, and there at last Captain Austen 
was greeted with the news of his promotion to 
Post Rank. The /^^/^r^/ anchored in the Road of 
Rhodes at ten o'clock on the morning of October 
20, where the Tigre was 2 1 days at anchor, and 
at this point the private log of the Pe^ere/ stops 

Although we have no account from Francis 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

Austen himself of his meeting with Captain Inglis, 
he evidently wrote a lively description of the inci- 
dent to his sisters. Jane writes from Steventon 
on January 21st to Cassandra: '*Well, and so 
Frank's letter has made you very happy, but you 
are afraid he would not have patience to stay for 
the Haarlem, which you wish him to have done, 
as being safer than the merchantman." Frank's 
great desire was clearly to get home as soon as 
possible after an absence of nearly three years. 
It is curious to think of the risks supposed to be 
incurred by passengers on board a merchantman. 

The following comment on the colour of the ink 
is amply borne out in the log : ** Poor fellow ! to 
wait from the middle of November to the end of 
December, and perhaps even longer, it must be 
sad work ; especially in a place where the ink is 
so abominably pale. What a surprise to him it 
must have been on October 20th to be visited, 
collared, and thrust out of the Peterel by Captain 
Inglis. He kindly passes over the poignancy of 
his feelings in quitting his ship, his officers, and 
his men. 

**What a pity it is that he should not be in 
England at the time of this promotion, because he 
certainly would have had an appointment, so 
everybody says, and therefore it must be right for 
me to say it too. Had he been really here, the 
certainty of the appointment, I dare say, would not 


''iM )^' ^"' "'^ 

^'^- %r1f'^'': 




'- -11 :i 



(When the forts were constructed, this avemte was ait down.) 

At Home and Abroad 

have been half so great ; as it could not be brought 
to the proof, his absence will be always a lucky 
source of regret." 

The ** promotion " spoken of in this letter 
was extensive, and took place on January i, 1801, 
on the occasion of the union of Great Britain and 
Ireland. At the same time there was an increase 
in the number of line-of-battle ships which is com- 
mented on with reference to Charles. 

** Eliza talks of having read in a newspaper that 
all the ist lieutenants of the frigates whose cap- 
tains were to be sent into line-of-battle ships were 
to be promoted to the rank of commanders. If 
it be true, Mr. Valentine may afford himself a fine 
Valentine's knot, and Charles may perhaps 
become ist of the Endymion, though I suppose 
Captain Durham is too likely to bring a villain 
with him under that denomination." 

The letters give no account of the homecoming, 
but from the story of William Price s return in 
** Mansfield Park," we can see that Jane knewsome- 
thing of the mingled feelings of such a meeting. 

''This dear William would soon be amongst 
them. . . . scarcely ten days had passed since 
Fanny had been in the agitation of her first dinner 
visit, when she found herself in an agitation of a 
higher nature. . . . watching in the hall, in the 
lobby, on the stairs, for the first sound of the car- 
riage which was to bring her a brother, 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

*' It was long before Fanny could recover from 
the agitating happiness of such an hour as was 
formed by the last thirty minutes of expectation 
and the first of fruition. 

"It was some time even before her happiness 
could be said to make her happy, before the dis- 
appointment inseparable from the alteration of 
person had vanished, and she could see in him the 
same William as before, and talk to him as her 
heart had been yearning to do through many a 
past year.** 




Francis Austen's first appointment on his pro- 
motion to post rank was to the Nepttme, as 
Flag-Captain to Admiral James Gambier. It was 
not usual for an Admiral to choose as his Flag- 
Captain one who had so lately gained the step in 
rank. It is clear from the letters of Francis Austen 
at this time that he, in common with many officers 
in the Navy, was bent on improvements in the 
food and general comforts of the crews. Francis 
Austen's capacity for detail would here stand him 
in good stead. There is one letter of his concern- 
ing the best way of preserving cheeses, which is a 
good example of his interest in the small things of 
his profession. He had, on the advice of Ad- 
miral Gambier, made the experiment of coating 
some cheeses with whitewash in order to keep 
them in good condition in hot weather, and had 
found it very successful. He thereupon wrote to 
the Admiralty Commissioners recommending that 
all cheeses should be so treated before being 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

shipped, in order that the men might have *' more 
wholesome and nutritive food," and also ** that a 
material ultimate saving to the public may be 
effected at an inconsiderable first cost." 

We have not far to look for a parallel to this 
love of detail in the works of Jane Austen. Ad- 
mirers and detractors are agreed in saying that 
she thought nothing too unimportant to be of in- 
terest, and in allowing the justice of her own 
description of her work — ** the little bit (two inches 
wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a 
brush, as produces little effect after much labour." 
There is no doubt that naval officers must often 
have felt in their dealings with the Admiralty that 
they produced ** little effect after much labour." 

A curious point of etiquette in connection with 
these letters is that the Commissioners invariably 
signed themselves ** Your affectionate friends," 
followed by the names of those concerned in the 

At the peace of Amiens, Francis Austen, among 
many other officers, went on half-pay ; but when 
war broke out again in 1803, we find him at 
Ramsgate, employed in raising a body of '' Sea 
Fencibles." This service was instituted chiefly 
on the advice of Captain Popham, who had tried 
something of the same kind in Flanders in 1793. 

The object, of course, was to protect the coast 
from invasion. The corps was composed of fisher- 


Blockading Boulogne 

men, commanded in each district by an officer in 
the Navy, whose duty it was to quarter the men 
on the beach, exercise them, and to have the 
beaches watched whenever the weather was 
favourable for the enemy to land. The men were 
exercised once a week, and were paid at the rate 
of a shilling a day, with a food allowance when 
on service. 

Captain Austen's report on the coast of the 
district lying between the North Foreland and 
Sandown is a document of considerable detail, 
dealing with the possible landing-places for a 
hostile army. He comes to the conclusion that in 
moderate weather a landing might be effected on 
many parts of this coast, particularly in Pegwell 
Bay, where ** the enemy would have no heights 
to gain," and, further, " that any time of tide would 
be equally favourable for the debarkation of troops 
on this shore." But ** in blowing weather, open 
flat boats filled with troops would doubtless many 
of them be lost in the surf, while larger vessels 
could not, from the flatness of the coast, approach 
sufficiently near." Of course, all is subject to 
** the enemy's evading our cruisers, and getting 
past the ships in the Downs." 

This time at Ramsgate was of importance to 
Francis, for it was here that he met, and became 
engaged to, Mary Gibson, who was his wife for 
seventeen years. This engagement, though 

113 H 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

** Mrs. F. A." became one of the best loved of 
the sisters-in-law, must at the outset have been a 
slight shock to Jane and Cassandra, who for long 
had been cherishing a hope that Frank would 
marry their beloved friend Martha Lloyd. A few 
extracts taken from the letters will show their 
affection and their hopes. 

" I love Martha better than ever, and I mean 
to go and see her, if I can, when she gets home. . . . 
I shall be very glad to see you at home again, and 
then — if we can get Martha — who will be so happy 
as we ? . . . I am quite pleased with Martha and 
Mrs. Lefroy for wanting the pattern of our caps, 
but I am not so well pleased with your giving it 
to them. Some wish, some prevailing wish, is 
necessary to the animation of everybody's mind, 
and in gratifying this you leave them to form some 
other which will probably not be half so innocent. 
I shall not forget to write to Frank." 

The connection of ideas seems very clear. Per- 
haps it may have been some memory of these old 
times, and the wishes of his sister who had passed 
away, that induced Francis to make Martha his 
second wife in 1828. 

That their religious life was the mainspring of 
all their actions is sufficiently clear throughout the 
whole lives of the two brothers. During this 
time at Ramsgate, Francis was noticed as ''the 
officer who knelt in church," and up to the day 


Blockading Boulogne 

of his death there is one entry never absent from 
the diary of Charles Austen — ** Read the Lessons 
of the Day." 

In May 1804 Captain Francis Austen was 
appointed to the Leopard, the flagship of Rear- 
Admiral Louis, who held a command in the 
squadron blockading Napoleon's Boulogne flotilla. 
This flotilla, begun in 1802, had by 1804 assumed 
very large proportions. With the object of stir- 
ring up the descendants of the Norman con- 
querors to a new invasion of England, Napoleon, 
always dramatic in his effects, made a progress 
through the maritime provinces attended by the 
Bayeux Tapestry, the display of which was ex- 
pected to arouse much martial ardour. It was 
assumed that his great army of veteran soldiers, 
encamped above the cliffs of Boulogne, was only 
waiting for favourable weather to embark on board 
the two thousand flat-bottomed boats. His review 
of this fleet in August 1804 was, however, so 
seriously disturbed by one or two of the British 
men-of-war that the new Emperor was obliged 
to recognise the impossibility of crossing the 
Channel unless he had the command of (at least) 
the narrow seas. 

All the naval history that follows, up to the day 
of Trafalgar, was t he outcome of his attempt to 
obtain this superiority for his ''Grand Army of 
England/' The failure of Villeneuve, on his return 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

from the West Indies, to reach the appointed ren- 
dezvous with Ganteaume off Brest, broke up 
Napoleon's combination ; the army marched to 
Austeriitz and Vienna, the flotilla was left to 
decay, and the site of the two years' camp is 
commemorated only by the Column of Napoleon 

The work of watching Boulogne and the neigh- 
bouring ports was, in common with all other 
blockades, as a contemporary writer says, **a trial 
to the temper, spirits and health of officers and 
men." There was a strong feeling in England 
against this system, which seems to have been 
popular with naval authorities. This opinion is 
voiced in the following cutting from the Naval 
Chronicle of that date : 

** Were it indeed possible to keep so strict awatch 
on the hostile shores that every effort of the enemy 
to escape from the ports would be unavailing, that 
the fortuitous circumstances of calms, fogs, gales, 
the obscurity of the night, &c., would not in any 
degree advance his purposes, then would the 
eventual mischief inseparable from a blockade, by 
which our marine is threatened, find a compensa- 
tion in our immediate security. But until this can 
be effected with a certainty of success, the national 
interests ought not to be compromised, and our 
future offensive and defensive means unnecessarily 
abridged." This extract is perhaps of greater 


Blockading Boulogne 

interest as an example of the journalese of the 
date, than for any unusual depth in the ideas which 
it expresses, which merely amount to the fact that 
it was considered that the *' game was not worth 
the candle." 

Against this we may set another view of the 
blockades as expressed by Dr. Fitchett : 

" It was one of the compensations of these 
great blockades that they raised the standard of 
seamanship and endurance throughout the British 
fleets to the highest possible level. The lonely 
watches, the sustained vigilance, the remoteness 
from all companionship, the long wrestle with the 
forces of the sea, the constant watching for battle, 
which for English seamen marked those block- 
ades, profoundly affected the character of English 
seamanship. When, indeed, has the world seen 
such seamen as those of the years preceding 
Trafalgar? Hardy, resolute, careless alike of 
tempest or of battle ; of frames as enduring as the 
oaken decks they trod, and courage as iron as the 
guns they worked ; and as familiar with sea-life 
and all its chances as though they had been web- 

** If the great blockades hardened the seaman- 
ship of the British fleets, fighting for long months 
with the tempests of the open sea, they fatally 
enervated the seamanship of the French navy. 
The seaman's art under the tri-colour decayed in 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

the long inaction of blockaded ports. The sea- 
man's spirit drooped. The French navy suffered 
curious and fatal loss, not only of nautical skill but 
of fighting impulse.*' 

Nelson's comment is opportune : " These 
gentlemen are not accustomed to a Gulf of Lyons 
gale, which we have buffeted for twenty-one 
months, and not carried away a spar." 

Captain Austen's idea of the best w^ay to mini- 
mise the evils of a blockade was to give the men 
as much work to do as possible in the care of the 
ship. At one time this took the form of having 
the boats re-painted. Over this question we have 
the following characteristic letter ; 

*' Leopard, Dungeness,/««^ 23, 1804, 

'* Sir, — I have received your letter of 21st in- 
stant, relative to the paint and oil I have demanded 
for the preservation of the boats of his Majesty's 
ship under my command, and in reply to it beg 
leave to inform you that I did not make that 
demand without having previously stated to the 
Navy Board by letter the situation of the boats of 
the Leopard, and the necessity of an extra propor- 
tion of paint being supplied for them ; and as by 
their answer they appeared to have approved of 
my application, inasmuch as they told me orders 
had been sent to Deal to issue it, I concluded 
nothing more remained for me than to demand 


Blockading Boulogne 

the necessary quantity. Presuming, however, 
from the tenor of your letter, that you have re- 
ceived no direction on the subject, I shall write to 
renew my application. 

** With respect to ' no colour than white being 
allowed for boats,' I would only ask you, as know- 
ing something of the King's naval service, how 
long one of our six-oared cutters would look decent 
painted all white, and whether a darker colour 
would not be both more durable and creditable ? 
If, however, such be the regulation of the Board 
(from which I know there is no appeal), I have 
only to request, when you receive any order to 
supply the paint, that you will give an additional 
quantity of white in lieu of black. 

'* The paint to which you allude in your letter 
as having been supplied on the 9th and 12th June, 
was sea store, and ought to have been furnished 
to the ship months ago. Nor is it more than 
sufficient to make her decent and fit for an Admiral 
to hoist his flag in. 

** I am, Sir, your humble servant, 

'' Francis Wm. Austen. 

** Geo. Lawrence, Esq., &c., &c." 

Shingle ballast was one of the grievances of 
naval officers at that time. It was, naturally, much 
cheaper than iron ballast, but it had a particularly 
awkward habit of shifting, and the larger stones 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

occasionally drilled holes in the ship. It was also 
very bulky and difficult to stow. 

Francis Austen was neither slow to enter a pro- 
test, nor easily put off his point. He writes : 

"Though the ship is deep enough in the water, 
she can only acquire the proper stability by having 
the weight placed lower. By a letter which I 
have this day received from the Navy Board in 
answer to my request, I am informed that the 
Leopard cannot be supplied with more than the 
established proportion of iron ballast, but if I wish 
for more directions shall be given for supplying 
shingle. I have, therefore, to request you will 
be pleased to move their Lordships to give direc- 
tions for the Leopards being supplied with the 
additional iron ballast as requested in my letter to 
the Navy Board." 

About this time Francis Austen began to keep 
a private note-book, which is still in existence, In 
which he recorded (not always seriously) points of 
interest in the places he visited. He seems to 
have kept this note-book while he was in the 
Leopard, then laid it aside for three years, and 
begun it again when he was Captain of the St, 
Albans. His notes on the ** Anchorage Off 
Boulogne " contain some interesting details. 

"• Directions for Sailing into the Roads. — There 
is no danger whatever in approaching the an- 
chorage usually occupied by the English squadron 


Blockading Boulogne 

employed at the blockade of Boulogne, as the 
water is deep and the soundings are regular. 
There is a bank called the ' Basse du Basse,' 
which lies about a mile off Ambleteuse, extending 
in a direction nearly parallel to the shore, but 
rather diverging outwards to the westward of 
Boulogne Pier ; on it there are in some places as 
little as three fathoms at low water, and within it 
considerably deeper water." He goes on with 
some special advice for the various types of vessel. 

" The situation usually occupied by the British 
squadron off Boulogne is, with the town bearing 
from S.S.E. to E.S.E., distant about four miles, 
in from i6 to 20 fathoms water; coarse sandy 
bottom, with large shells and stones, which would 
probably injure the cables materially, but that 
from the depth of water and strength of the tides, 
little of them can ever drag on the bottom, 

*' From Cape Grisnez to Portel the coast is 
little else than one continual battery, and I con- 
ceive it to be absolutely impregnable to any attack 
from the sea. Of its defences towards the land 
I know nothing. I had no means of knowing 
anything relative to the landing-places. 

*' Trade. — On this point I had no means of acquir- 
ing any certain information, but believe, previous 
to the war with England, it was a place of great 
resort for our smuggling vessels from the Kentish 
coast. As it is a tide harbour, and completely dry 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

at low water, no vessels of very large draught of 
water can go in, nor anything larger than a boat 
until nearly half flood.'* 

A hundred years have wrought great changes. 
The Folkestone and Boulogne steamers have some 
larger dimensions than the Leopard herself, and 
they go in and out at all states of the tide. 

One heading is always devoted to *' Inhabitants," 
and under this Francis Austen remarks : ** The 
inhabitants are French, subjects to Napoleon the 
First, lately exalted to the Imperial dignity by the 
unanimous suffrages of himself and his creatures." 
The sarcastic tone of the reference to Napoleon 
was characteristic of the general tenor of publica- 
tions in England at the time. '* The Tom Thumb 
egotism and impudent bulletins of the Corsican 
usurper continue almost without a parallel in his- 
tory," says the Naval Chronicle. The language 
in which this protest is couched is hardly that we 
should use now in speaking of Napoleon. 

Charles, when the war broke out again, was re- 
appointed to the EndymioUy and served on her 
with some distinction until October 1 804, when he 
was given the command of the Indian sloop. 

Among other prizes taken under Captain Paget, 
who finally recommended Lieutenant Charles 
Austen for command, the Endymion had captured 
the French corvette Bacchante on the return 
voyage from St. Domingo to Brest ; she had left 


Blockading Boulogne 

France about three months before, meeting with 
\ki^ Endymion on June 25, 1803. This prize was 
a remarkably fine corvette, and was added to the 
British Navy. 

Somewhere about this time Charles had come 
across Lord Leven and his family, and was evi- 
dently useful to them in some way, besides being 
doubtless extremely agreeable. When Lord and 
Lady Leven were in Bath, they made some effort 
to become acquainted with the family of Mr. 
Austen, and Jane writes to Cassandra describing 
a visit paid one morning by her mother and her- 

** When I tell you I have been visiting a countess 
this morning, you will immediately (with great 
justice, but no truth) guess it to be Lady Roden. 
No ; it is Lady Leven, the mother of Lord Bal- 
gonie. On receiving a message from Lord and 
Lady Leven through the Mackys, declaring their 
intention of waiting on us, we thought it right to 
go to them. I hope we have not done too much, 
but friends and admirers of Charles must be at- 
tended to. They seem very reasonable, good 
sort of people, very civil, and full of his praise. 
We were shown at first into an empty drawing- 
room, and presently in came his lordship (not 
knowing who we were) to apologise for the 
servant s mistake, and to say himself — what was 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

untrue — that Lady Leven was not within. He 
is a tall, gentleman-like looking man, with spec- 
tacles, and rather deaf. After sitting with him 
ten minutes we walked away, but Lady Leven 
coming out of the dining-parlour as we passed the 
door, we were obliged to attend her back to it, and 
pay our visit over again. She is a stout woman, 
with a very handsome face. By this means we 
had the pleasure of hearing Charles's praises twice 
over. They think themselves excessively obliged 
to him, and estimate him so highly as to wish 
Lord Balgonie, when he is quite recovered, to go 
out to him. 

"There is a pretty little Lady Marianne of the 
party to be shaken hands with, and asked if she 
remembered Mr. Austen. ... I shall write to 
Charles by the next packet, unless you tell me in 
the meantime of your intending to do it. 

*' Belize me, if you chuse, 

" Your affectionate sister." 

In January 1805, j^st before Francis Austen 
was moved from the Leopard to the Canopus, and 
a few months after Charles had taken command of 
the Indian, a family sorrow came upon them. 
Jane wrote twice to tell the news to Frank, as 
the first letter was directed to Dungeness, in the 
belief that the Leopard was there, instead of at 



Blockading Boulogne 

•' Green Park Buildings, 

" Monday, January 21, 1805. 

** My dearest Frank, — I have melancholy 
news to relate, and sincerely feel for your feelings 
under the shock of it. I wish I could better pre- 
pare you for it, but, having said so much, your 
mind will already foretell the sort of event which 
I have to communicate. Our dear father has 
closed his virtuous and happy life in a death 
almost as free from suffering as his children could 
have wished. He was taken ill on Saturday morn- 
ing, exactly in the same way as heretofore — an 
oppression in the head, with fever, violent tremu- 
lousness, and the greatest degree of feebleness. 
The same remedy of cupping, which had before 
been so successful, was immediately applied to, 
but without such happy effects. The attack was 
more violent, and at first he seemed scarcely at all 
relieved by the operation. Towards the evening, 
however, he got better, had a tolerable night, and 
yesterday morning was so greatly amended as 
to get up, join us at breakfast as usual, and walk 
about without the help of a stick ; and every 
symptom was then so favourable that, when Bo wen 
saw him at one, he felt sure of his doing perfectly 
well. But as the day advanced all these com- 
fortable appearances gradually changed, the fever 
grew stronger than ever, and when Bowen saw 
him at ten at night he pronounced his situation 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

to be most alarming. At nine this morning he 
came again, and by his desire a physician was 
called in, Dr. Gibbs. But it was then absolutely 
a lost case. Dr. Gibbs said that nothing but a 
miracle could save him, and about twenty minutes 
after ten he drew his last gasp. Heavy as is the 
blow, we can already feel that a thousand com- 
forts remain to us to soften it. Next to that of the 
consciousness of his worth and constant prepara- 
tion for another world, is the remembrance of his 
having suffered, comparatively speaking, nothing. 
Being quite insensible of his own state, he was 
spared all pain of separation, and he went off 
almost in his sleep. My mother bears the shock 
as well as possible ; she was quite prepared for it, 
and feels all the blessing of his being spared a 
long illness. My uncle and aunt have been with 
us, and show us every imaginable kindness. And 
to-morrow we shall, I dare say, have the comfort 
of James' presence, as an express has been sent 
for him. We write also, of course, to Godmersham 
and Brompton. Adieu, my dearest Frank. The 
loss of such a parent must be felt, or we should 
be brutes. I wish I could give you a better pre- 
paration, but it has been impossible. 

*' Yours ever affectionately, 

"J. A.'^ 

As this letter was wrongly addressed, it was 


Blockading Boulogne 

necessary for Jane to write a second one to send 
direct to Portsmouth. 

" Green Park Buildings, 

** Tuesday Evening, January 22, 1805. 

*' My dearest Frank, — I wrote to you yesterday, 
but your letter to Cassandra this morning, by which 
we learn the probability of your being by this 
time at Portsmouth, obliges me to write to you 
again, having, unfortunately, a communication as 
necessary as painful to make to you. Your affec- 
tionate heart will be greatly wounded, and I wish 
the shock could have been lessened by a better 
preparation ; but the event has been sudden, and 
so must be the information of it. We have lost 
an excellent father. An illness of only eight and 
forty hours carried him off yesterday morning be- 
tween ten and eleven. He was seized on Saturday 
with a return of the feverish complaint which he 
had been subject to for the last three years — 
evidently a more violent attack from the first, as 
the applications which had before produced almost 
immediate relief seemed for some time to afford 
him scarcely any. On Sunday, however, he was 
much better — so much so as to make Bowen 
quite easy, and give us every hope of his being 
well again in a few days. But these hopes 
gradually gave way as the day advanced, and when 
Bowen saw him at ten that night he was greatly 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

alarmed. A physician was called in yesterday 
morning, but he was at that time past all possibility 
of cure ; and Dr. Gibbs and Mr. Bowen had 
scarcely left his room before he sunk into a sleep 
from which he never awoke. Everything, I trust 
and believe, was done for him that was possible. 
It has been very sudden. Within twenty-four 
hours of his death he was walking about with 
only the help of a stick — was even reading. We 
had, however, some hours of preparation, and 
when we understood his recovery to be hopeless, 
most fervently did we pray for the speedy release 
which ensued. To have seen him languishing 
long, struggling for hours, would have been 
dreadful — and, thank God, we were all spared 
from it. Except the restlessness and confusion 
of high fever, he did not suffer, and he was merci- 
fully spared from knowing that he was about to 
quit objects so beloved and so fondly cherished 
as his wife and children ever were. His tenderness 
as a father, who can do justice to .^^ My mother 
is tolerably well ; she bears up with the greatest 
fortitude, but I fear her health must suffer under 
such a shock. An express was sent for James, and 
he arrived here this morning before eight o'clock. 
The funeral is to be on Saturday at Walcot Church. 
The serenity of the corpse is most delightful. It 
preserves the sweet, benevolent smile which always 
distinguished him. They kindly press my mother 


Blockading Boulogne 

to remove to Steventon as soon as it is all over, 
but I do not believe she will leave Bath at present. 
We must have this house for three months longer, 
and here we shall probably stay till the end of that 
time. We all unite in love, and I am 

** Affectionately yours, 

"J. A." 

This was followed in a few days by another. 

" Green Park Buildings, 

"Tuesday, /awwafj/ 29, 1805. 

" My dearest Frank, — My mother has found 
among our dear father's little personal property 
a small astronomical instrument, which she hopes 
you will accept for his sake. It is, I believe, a 
compass and sun-dial, and is in a black shagreen 
case. Would you have it sent to you now — and 
with what direction ? There is also a pair of 
scissors for you. We hope these are articles that 
may be useful to you, but we are sure they will 
be valuable. I have not time for more. 

** Yours very affectionately, 

"J. A." 




For a little over a year Francis Austen was 
Flag-Captain in the Canopus. This ship, which 
had been captured from the French at the Battle 
of the Nile, had originally been called Le Franklin, 
and was one of the best built vessels in the Navy 
of that day, carrying eighty guns. 

On March 29, 1805, Rear- Admiral Louis 
hoisted his flag in the Canopus, and soon after- 
wards became second in command to Nelson. 

Perhaps few, even among British captains of 
that day, were engaged in search of French fleets 
across the Atlantic twice within a twelvemonth, 
but the story in the log-book of the Canopus for 
that year tells of the chase of Villeneuve before 
Trafalgar, of the second cruise and of the battle 
of St. Domingo, followed by the return voyage to 
England with three French line-of-battle ships as 

The subtle strategy of the Emperor Napoleon, 
with the counter-strokes of Nelson and the British 


The Pursuit of Villeneuve 

Admiralty, have been often described ; but the 
history of those months, told day by day in the 
log-book of the Campus, has a freshness of detail 
which gives reality to such stock phrases as 
*' contrary winds " or ** strange sails," and makes 
one recognise that it was the men at sea who 
really did the work. 

The escape of Villeneuve's fleet from Toulon 
begins the series of events in 1805 which led up 
to the Battle of Trafalgar. Napoleon s original 
plan has since become well known. 

Villeneuve was to be joined in the West Indies 
by the combined fleets under Ganteaume from 
Brest, and Missiessy from Rochefort. The force 
thus gathered was to cross the Atlantic, gain 
possession of the narrow seas by overpowering the 
Channel fleet, and then the long-threatened 
invasion of England was to be attempted by the 
Grand Army, embarked in the Boulogne flotilla. 

The plan was so far forward that the fleet from 
Toulon was already at sea, and the Rochefort 
squadron had reached the West Indies. It only 
remained to get the Brest fleet out of harbour. 
This was, however, exactly where the plan failed. 
The blockading force was not to be moved and 
could not be eluded. False news of troubles in 
India and false declarations of intentions were all 
unavailing ; and even the bluff in the French 
papers that, so far from waiting till the British 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

would let them go, the French fleet could and 
would sail whenever it was convenient, did not 
effect the withdrawal of a single British ship from 
Ushant. At the same time the fact that the 
Toulon fleet was at large was enough to cause 
anxiety to Nelson, especially as it was quite 
impossible to tell what might be Villeneuve's 
orders. Nelson supposed him to be making for 
Egypt, and took up a position accordingly mid- 
way between Sardinia and Africa. 

The fleet with Nelson at this time is recorded 
in the log of the Canopus as follows : 

100 Victory Rt. Honble. Lord Viscount Nelson, K.B., 

Vice-Admiral of the White, &c. &c. 
Rear-Admiral George Murray, Capt. of 

the Fleet. 
Captain Thomas Hardy. 
100 Royal Sovereign Sir Richard Bickerton, Baronet, Rear- 
Admiral of the Red. 
Captain John Stuart. 
80 Canopus Thomas Louis, Esq., Rear- Admiral of the 

Captain F. W. Austen. 
„ Richard G. Keats. 
„ Honble. Robert Stopford. 
„ Mark Robinson. 
„ William Hargood. 
„ Israel Pellew. 
„ Benjamin Hallo well. 
„ H. W. Baynton. 
„ Pulteney Malcolm. 

The Royal Sovereign was found unfit to make 
the voyage across the Atlantic, and went home 







Swift sure 













ships' names. 













Victory , 








r ^' 








Tigre . 



Royal Sovereign 


CO ' 




Leviathan . 




r Rear- Admiral Thomas Louis 
\ Captain Francis Wm. Austen 

Richard Goodwin Keats 

TThe Commandc-in-Chief 
-| Rear-Admiral George Murray 
1^ Captain Thomas Hardy 
Pulieney Malcolm 

Hon. R. Stopford 

Benjamin Hallowell 

/Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Bickerton/^ 
\Captaiu John Stuart 

Henry Wm. Baynton 

















Excellent , 

. Frank Sotheron 



i5^//^/x/^ . 

. William Hargood 




Conqueror . 

. Israel Pellew 



. Mark Robinson 




Captain of His Majesty's Ship Canopus 

Dated on board the 

Victory, in Palma Bay, 

March 26, 1805 


The Pursuit of Villeneuve 

from Lagos in May for thorough repairs, which 
were so effective that she carried ColHngwood's 
flag into action, before any other of the fleet, at 

The narrative begins at the Bay of Palma in 
Sardinia, amid general preparations throughout 
the fleet. 

On the 4th of April the Admiral signalled **to 
prepare for action, as the enemy's fleet from 
Toulon is at sea." After this the fleet cruised for 
some days between Sardinia and Sicily, waiting 
for news of the enemy's movements. If, as was 
thought possible, they were bound for Egypt, the 
position taken up by Nelson was a strong one. 
There were daily consultations of the admirals 
and captains on board the Victory, After about a 
fortnight of this uncertainty, ** intelligence is 
gained " that the sixteen French ships of the line 
were spoken on the 7th of April, off Cartagena, 
going west. On the i8th this news was confirmed, 
with the addition that they had passed Gibraltar 
on the 9th, and were joined by five Spanish two- 
deckers, and had continued westward with fair 
winds. Now ensued an anxious time. The enemy 
were well started ten days in advance, with the 
wind behind them, while the British fleet were still 
battling with adverse winds in the Mediterranean. 
Every breeze is carefully noted in the log, and the 
slow progress evidently gave the greatest concern. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

On the 22nd and 23rd of April, the distance 
made was only fifteen miles in all : ** Extremely- 
variable baffling winds and squally weather, tack- 
ing or wearing every two or three hours, the 
squadron very much dispersed." Ordinarily the 
Victory was within half a mile, **but now four or 
six miles away." Majorca was In sight at one 
time, and the African coast at another, but the 
progress towards Gibraltar must have been 
scarcely perceptible. The Rock was seen for the 
first time on the 2nd May, still twelve leagues 
away, and on the 4th they anchored in Tetuan 
Bay. Here was hard work to be done in getting 
fresh water and provisions on board. At Gibraltar 
on the 6th the Canopus did not even anchor, as 
the wind was at last fair, and their stay was only 
for four hours. 

On May 9th, the Victory signalled " to prepare 
demands to complete provisions for five months," 
which was accomplished off Lagos In Portugal 
by the morning of the nth. Then the Admiral 
made telegraph signal, "Rendezvous Barbadoes," 
and the whole fleet made sail for the West 

With fair winds and a straight course, the 
distance of 3200 miles was accomplished by the 
4th of June. 


The Pursuit of Villeneuve 

The sailing order of the squadron was : 


100 Victory, 80 Canopus. 

74 Superb. 74 Leviathan. 

74 Donegal. 74 Belleisk. 32 Amphion. 

74 Spencer, 74 Conqueror. 38 Amazon. 

74 Tigre. 74 Swiftsure. 26 Decade. 

There is very little in the log to indicate the 
intense expectation that must have been present 
as they made their entries of the diminishing 

** May 15. — Island of Barbadoes S. 64.46 W., 
dist. ^yy leagues. 

''May 22. — S. 70.15 W., dist. 589 leagues." 

The careful comparison of observations with 
the vessels of the weather line, repairs to spars and 
sails, and general preparation for what might 
happen on arrival, seem to fill up the days, while 
the north-east trade winds gave them fine and 
clear weather. 

" Oh, the wonder of the great trade wind ! All 
day we sailed and all night, and all the next day, 
and the next, day after day, the wind always 
astern and blowing steadily and strong. The 
schooner sailed herself There was no pulling and 
hauling on sheets and tackles, no shifting of top- 
sails, no work at all for the sailors to do except to 
steer. At night, when the sun went down, the 
sheets were slackened ; in the morning when they 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

yielded up the damp of the dew and relaxed, they 
were pulled tight again — and that was all. Ten 
knots, twelve knots, eleven knots, varying from 
time to time, is the speed we are making. And 
ever out of the north-east the brave wind blows, 
driving us on our course two hundred and fifty 
miles between the dawns." 

These words, taken from one of our popular 
modern novels,^ give us some idea of what sailing 
was in those days. 

The usual record every twelve hours is ** Victory 
north one mile." Sometimes the flagship is rather 
more distant, and occasionally the ** Admiral 
(Louis) went on board the Victory'' Doubtless 
the impatience and excitement was not all on 
Nelson's part. Every man in the fleet must have 
felt that a battle was not far off. All this 
time the three frigates were almost daily out in 
chase, but no enemy was sighted, and it was not 
until June 3 that the Admiral signalled that the 
French and Spanish squadrons were at Mar- 
tinique, ** having gained this intelligence from two 
English letters of marque." 

Next day they arrived at Barbadoes, where the 

Admiral gave orders to embark troops. Nine 

regiments had been sent out from England in the 

spring, but had not arrived in time to prevent 

Missiessy and his squadron from Rochefort from 

<* The " Sea Wolf," by Jack London, Heinemann. 

The Pursuit of Villeneuve 

doing much as they chose during his stay among 
the islands. His troops had taken possession of 
Dominica, excepting a fort held by General 
Prevost's force, and he had laid under contribution 
Montserrat, Nevis and St. Kitt's. 

Missiessy had then departed, according to the 
Emperor's instructions, for France, crossing Ville- 
neuve's fleet in Mid-Atlantic. Thus Napoleon's 
grand scheme of combination fell through. The 
fleets from Toulon and Rochefort missed each 
other, instead of meeting at the West Indies, and 
the Brest fleet did not succeed in getting past the 
British blockade. The Canopus log of July 17 
records the return of Missiessy's squadron. " Five 
sail of the line and four frigates arrived at Roche- 
fort, on May 21. Vessels dismantled and 

The troops embarked by the squadron at 
Barbadoes were some of those despatched hither 
in the spring. There is a record of a characteristic 
order on June 3 : 

** Admiral made telegraph signal — ' Troops to 
be victualled at whole allowance of provisions.'" 
The practice of the day was that soldiers at sea 
received smaller rations than the ship's company — 
just the sort of unreasonable orders which it would 
delight Nelson to set aside. 

Early on the 5th the squadron was again under 
weigh, the Victory leading and the Canopus astern ; 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

but in consequence of wrong information received 
they were on a southerly course, and hourly 
increasing their distance from the combined 
enemy's fleet, which was still among the islands, 
but to the northward of Martinique. The signal 
at three o'clock ** to prepare for battle " was not 
to be followed by any immediate action. 

On the 7th the Gulf of Paria, in Trinidad, was 
reached, but still no news of the enemy was 
obtained. The log merely mentions anchoring 
there for the night and sailing for the northerly 
islands next morning. The careful records of 
barometer and temperature are here interrupted, 
as " barometer taken down in clearing for action." 

All through June 10, 11 and 1 2 the smaller craft 
were constantly detached to the various islands 
for intelligence, and finally they all anchored at 

^^ June 12. — Admiral made signal to prepare 
letters for England. At eight o'clock the Curieux 
brig parted company for England." 

This brig had a history of some interest. She 
had been captured from the French on February 
3, 1804. She was cut out by the Centa^ir from 
the harbour of Martinique, just after the Diamond 
Rock had been seized and garrisoned by the same 
man-of-war. The story is pathetically told by M. 
Cheminant, the only French officer who survived 
the action. 




4. Superb 

Repeating a\ |* j^. , 

Frigates ^ ^' ^''^^'ry 

NO. ships' names. 
I. Canoptii 

Repeating ' 
Frigates tn ' 

U 9- 

7. Donegal • 

9. Spencef , 



3. 7X?^* . 


5. Northumberland 


7. Leviathan • 

Repeating d 

, Excellent 

8. Swiflsure 

9, Spavtiate 


/Rear- Admiral Louis 

\ Captain Francis W. Austen 

Richard G. Keats 

Rear-Admiral Murray 
Captain Thomas Hardy 
Pultenty Malcolm 

Hon. R. Stopford 

Benjamin Hallowell 

/ Rear-Admiral Hon. A. Cochrane 
\ Captain George Tobin 

Wm. Henry Baynton 

William Hargood 

Israel Pellew 

W. G. Rutherford 

Sir Francis Laforey, Bart. 

Captain of His Majesty's Ship Canopus 

Dated on board the Victory 

in Carlisle Bay, Barbadoes, 

June 5, 1805 


The Pursuit of Villeneuve 

" On board the Curieux, captured by the English, 

" Pluviose 14, Year 12. 

** The only officer remaining of those who com- 
manded the crew of the Curieux, I owe you a 
faithful report of the cruel tragedy which has 
delivered us up to the enemy. 

** On the 13th instant, before one o'clock in the 
morning I was on deck with a midshipman and 
twenty men, according to the orders given by 
Captain Cordier. The weather was of the darkest, 
especially in the northern direction. Sentries 
were placed abaft at the ladder and forward. Our 
boarding nettings were triced up. We had hardly 
perceived the English boats before they boarded 
by the stern and the main shrouds. We had only 
time to discharge two guns with grape shot, one 
swivel and a wall piece, when the enemy were on 
board, and forced us to have recourse to the sabre, 
pike and musketry." 

Lieutenant Bettesworth took a chief part in the 
attack, and was eventually rewarded with the 
command of the brig, which had been one of the 
best vessels of its kind in the French navy. 

It was an important mission which was now 
entrusted to Captain Bettesworth. He was to 
sail for England with despatches from Lord 
Nelson for the Admiralty, steering a certain 
course in the hope that he would sight the enemy's 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

fleet Nelson was right in his conjecture, and 
Captain Bettesworth reached England with the 
news that Villeneuve was on the return voyage. 

The Curieux anchored at Plymouth on July 7, 
and the Captain reached the Admiralty at 11 p.m. 
on the 8th, too late, in the officials' opinion, for 
the First Lord to be disturbed. Lord Barham, a 
sailor himself, knew well the value of time in naval 
matters, and was much annoyed at the loss of so 
many precious hours. Though over eighty years 
of age his judgment was rapid and accurate. 
Early on the 9th Admiralty messages were on the 
way to Portsmouth and Plymouth. Admiral Corn- 
wallis, off Ushant, received his orders on the nth 
to detach the squadron blockading Rochefort and 
send it to join Calder westward off Cape Finis- 
terre, while he himself was to cruise south of 
Ushant. To the amazement of Napoleon, only 
eight days after the arrival of the Curieux, Sir 
Robert Calder was ready with fifteen ships off 
Ferrol. There Villeneuve met him, and an action 
took place which should have been decisive, but 
by reason of excessive caution on the part of 
Calder, only caused loss of ships and men to both 
sides without advantage to either. Calder joined 
Cornwallis off Ushant, while Villeneuve went into 
Vigo Bay and afterwards Into Ferrol. 

Nelson's squadron began the voyage back from 
the West Indies on June 15, and we have again 


The Pursuit of Villeneuve 

in the log of the Canopus the matter-of-fact, day- 
to-day record of routine work, vessels spoken, ** no 
intelligence," small prizes, rigging out of gear, 
and so forth, behind which was the background of 
suppressed excitement, of unremitting watch, and 
of constant readiness. As the months went on and 
the situation developed, the excitement increased, 
and reached its climax only with Trafalgar Day. 

One entry gives an idea of the difference in the 
conditions of warfare then and now. " On June 
19, an English merchant vessel was spoken by 
the Amphion frigate. They signalled — * Have 
English papers to the 3rd of May. Interesting 
debates.' Admiral asked — * Who is First Lord 
of the Admiralty '^ ' Answer — ' Lord Barham.' 
Knowing so little as they did of affairs at 
home, they could not be sure that all might not 
be over before they got back. 

''June 29. — The Amazon at daylight was seen 
to be towing a captured Spanish Tartan, from 
La Guayra. The people on board did not know 
of the war." This was undoubtedly an extreme 
case, and one feels some sympathy for the " people 
on board," who were captured before they knew 
that they were fighting. 

The winds were naturally less favourable for 
the return voyage, but by taking a course near 
Bermuda, and tothe Azores, they made much better 
headway than Villeneuve had managed to do, and 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

reached Gibraltar on July 17. After a few days 
here they gained intelligence of the doings of the 
Curieux brig, and sailed northwards to join Admiral 
Cornwallis off Ushant. 

** August 1 5. — Off Ushant. Lord Nelson saluted 
Admiral Cornwallis with fifteen guns, returned 
with thirteen. — Joined the Channel Fleet of 
twenty-four sail of the line. Answered our signal 
to follow orders of Admiral Cornwallis in the Ville 
de Paris'' 

** August 16. — Thirty-five sail of the line in com- 
pany. Victory and Superb parted company for 

We read from a contemporary writer that 
Nelson arrived '* filled with mortification, which 
those who first conversed with him after his arrival 
state to have amounted almost to anguish, at his 
disappointment " at having missed Villeneuve in 
the West Indies. 

''August 17. — Ville de Paris made signal to 
Prince of Wales (Sir R. Calder) to part company, 
on service previously denoted. Made sail (south- 
wards) in company with squadron of nineteen sail 
of the line." 

*' On 20th Naiad brought intelligence that the 
French fleet had sailed from Ferrol on the 13th.'* 

*' On 22nd, off Peninsular coast, Admiral Calder 
signalled * Prepare for battle.' " 

This was almost on the very spot of his inde- 


The Pursuit of Villeneuve 

cisive fight of July 23. Calder's ''order of battle" 
gives very full details on various contingencies, 
making a sharp contrast with those signed 
** Nelson and Bronte," in which the ships* stations 
only are set down, the rest of the orders being 
given in the plan of attack well known as the 
*• Nelson Touch." 

In the log of 24th " the enemy's fleet of twenty- 
eight sail of the line were off Cape St. Vincent on 
the 1 8th, when they fell in with and destroyed four 
sail of merchantmen, under convoy of the Halcyon, 
which narrowly escaped capture. In the after- 
noon, the EuryaluSy with despatches from V. A. 
Collingwood, reported that the combined fleet 
anchored in Cadiz on the 21st, making in all 
thirty-four sail of the line." 

With the enemy in Cadiz the only thing to be 
done was to wait until they came out. On the 30th 
the log records : ** Joined Vice-Admiral Colling- 
wood's squadron of five sail of the line." The 
fleet wore and stood off, while Canopus, Spencer, 
Tigre, Leviathan and Donegal were ordered to 
cruise in sight of Cadiz. This plan of keeping a 
squadron close in shore was followed throughout 
September, while the fleet awaited the arrival of 
Nelson from England, and the enemy watched 
for an opportunity to get out, either to meet the 
British fleet or to pass them on the way into the 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

An extract from the Naval Chronicle shows 
something of popular feeling in England at this 
juncture. The remarks on Nelson as contrasted 
with those of a few months later, after Trafalgar 
had been fought and won, are more amusing than 

*' The arrival of Lord Nelson and Sir Robert 
Calder's action are the principal events of the 
last month which have occupied the public mind. 
It has been said that the former, with Sir Sydney- 
Smith, is soon to embark on some desperate pro- 
ject against the enemy, and we most sincerely 
wish to see his lordship employed at the present 
moment in the defence of our own shores. Should 
the mad project of invasion ever be attempted, 
the public would feel additional security from 
having the Hero of the Nile off our own coast. 
But we greatly lament that ill-judged and over- 
weening popularity which tends to make another 
demigod of Lord Nelson at the expense of all 
other officers in the Service, many of whom 
possess equal merit and equal abilities and equal 
gallantry with the noble Admiral. 

*' Sir Robert Calder has not yet, even to the 
Admiralty, given that explanation of his conduct 
which his country expects and his character 
demands. With his character and its failings we 
are well acquainted, but we only wish to regard 
his talents. The French fleet did certainly not 


The Pursuit ot Villeneuve 

run away ; owing to the particular manoeuvres of 
the action, they may be said even to have pursued 
us, and this may, perhaps, have been occasioned 
by some feint of our Admiral in order to attack the 
French to greater advantage. But the whole is 
at present merely conjecture, until some further 
explanation of the action has taken place. The 
account which the French have published in the 
Moniteur, allowing for their natural boasting and 
vanity, contains a greater portion of truth than 

Villeneuve's letter will give an idea of what 
that account was. '' The battle then began almost 
along the whole line. We fired by the light of the 
enemy's fire, almost always without seeing them. 
The fog did not abate during the remainder of 
the evening. At the first peep of dawn I made 
signal to bear down upon the enemy, who had 
taken their position at a great distance, and 
endeavoured by every possible press of sail to 
avoid renewing the action. Finding it impossible 
to force them to an engagement, I thought it my 
duty not to remove further from the line of my 

In consequence of this Sir Robert Calder was 
recalled and tried by court-martial at Portsmouth in 
the following December, when he was severely re- 
primanded foran '*errorinjudgment." The severity 
of tone of the Naval Chronicle towards those who 

145 K 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

were fighting the country's battles finds its parallel 
in the French newspapers of the date. Villeneuve 
was deeply stung by a sneering remark In the 
Moniteur upon what the conduct of the French 
fleet might be If commanded by a man of ability — 
so much so as to Induce him to disregard Napo- 
leon's wishes that he should go to Toulon, col- 
lecting forces on the way, and to lead him to 
come to close quarters with our fleet as soon as a 
convenient opportunity offered. Of that oppor- 
tunity and the Battle of Trafalgar to which It led 
we will speak in the following chapter. 




The month of September was spent in blockading 
Cadiz. The Canopus, as already stated, was one 
of the squadron of five told off to keep close in 
shore and watch the port. So close were they 
that one time the Tigre nearly ran aground and 
had to be towed off. The log on September i6th 
gives an account of what could be seen of the 
enemy's fleet. 

**We stood in till all the enemy's fleet were 
open of the town, and had an opportunity of dis- 
tinctly counting them. Their whole force con- 
sisted of thirty-three sail of the line and five 
frigates, all apparently quite ready for sea, with 
the exception of two ships of the line ; one of 
which (French) had her topmasts struck, and main 
top-gallant mast down on the deck ; the other 
(Spanish) had her fore-mast struck and fore-stay 
slack as if doing something to the bowsprit. Of 
the ships of the line seventeen were French and 
sixteen Spanish, of which last two were three- 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

deckers. The frigates were all French, and one 
of them appeared to have a poop. We saw also 
at the Carracas three large ships (two of them 
appearing to be three-deckers) and two small ones, 
all of them in a considerable state of forwardness 
in point of rigging." 

On September 28 the Victory arrived from 
England, with Nelson on board, and three days 
later the Canopus joined the main part of the 
fleet, and was almost immediately told off to take 
her turn in the duty of fetching water from 
Gibraltar. The story of the month of October, 
with its hopes, fears, and disappointments, is best 
told by Francis Austen himself in the following 
letter to Mary Gibson : 

" Canopus at Sea, off Gibraltar, October 15, 1805. 

** My dearest Mary, — Having now got over 
the hurry and bustle which unavoidably attends 
every ship while in the act of compleating provi- 
sions, water and stores, I think it high time to 
devote some part of my attention to your amuse- 
ment, and to be in a state of preparation for any 
opportunity which may offer of dispatching letters 
to England. But in order to make myself under- 
stood I must endeavour to be methodical, and 
therefore shall commence the account I have now 
to send you from the date of my last, which was 
finished and forwarded by the Nimble brig on the 


" A Melancholy Situation 


2nd of this month. We had then just joined the 
fleet from the in-shore squadron, and, I beUeve I 
mentioned, were about to quit it again for Gibral- 
tar and Tetuan. We sailed that evening with 
four other ships of the line, a frigate, and five 
merchant vessels under convoy, and on the follow- 
ing morning fell in with the Euryalus, which we 
had left off Cadiz to watch the enemy. Captain 
Blackwood informed us by signal that he had 
received information by a Swedish ship from 
Cadiz that the troops had all embarked on board 
the men-of-war, and it was reported they were to 
sail with the first easterly wind. Though much 
confidence could not be placed on the accuracy 
and authenticity of this intelligence, it was, how- 
ever, of such a nature as to induce Admiral Louis 
to return with four of the ships to Lord Nelson, 
leaving the Zealous and Endymion (both of them 
crippled ships) to proceed with the convoy to 
Gibraltar. We rejoined the Commander-in-Chief 
on the morning of the 5th, and were again dis- 
patched in the course of the day. 

** The wind being directly against us, and blow- 
ing very strong, we were not able to reach 
Gibraltar until the 9th, when every exertion was 
made to get on board such supplies of stores and 
provisions as we were in want of, and the Rock 
could supply. This was effected in three days, at 
which time the wind changed to the westward and 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

became favourable for our watering at Tetuan, 
where we anchored on the evening of the 12th. 
We sailed again last night to return to the fleet, 
having got on board in the course of two days, 
with our own boats alone, 300 tons of water, and 
every other ship had got a proportionate quantity. 
You will judge from this that we have not been 
idle. We are now expecting a wind to take us 
out of the Mediterranean again, and hope to 
accomplish it in the course of the next twenty- 
four hours ; at present it is nearly calm, but 
appearances indicate an easterly wind. We are, 
of course, very anxious to get back to the fleet for 
fear the enemy should be moving, for the idea of 
their doing so while we are absent is by no means 
pleasant. Having borne our share in a tedious 
chace and anxious blockade, it would be mortify- 
ing indeed to find ourselves at last thrown out of 
any share of credit or emolument which would 
result from an action. Such, I hope, will not be 
our lot, though, if they do venture out at all, it 
must happen to some one, as a part of the fleet 
will be constantly sent in to compleat as fast as 
the others arrive from having performed that 

** Our stay at Gibraltar was not productive of 
much gaiety to us ; we dined only twice on shore, 
and both times with General Fox, the Governor. 
We had engagements for several succeeding days 


"A Melancholy Situation" 

on our hands ; but this change of wind making it 
necessary for us to move off, our friends were left 
to lament our absence, and eat the fatted calf 
without us. I believe I have mentioned in a 
former letter that the young lady / admired so 
much (Miss Smith) was married to the Colonel 
Keen, whom Sutton will not acknowledge as an 
acquaintance. As a matter of civility, I called 
with the Admiral Louis to make them a morning 
visit, but we were not fortunate enough to find 
them at home, which, of course, / very much 
regretted. The last evening of our stay at 
Gibraltar we went, after dining with the General, 
to see Othello performed by some of the 
officers of the garrison. The theatre is small, 
but very neatly fitted up ; the dresses and scenery 
appeared good, and I might say the same of 
the acting could I have seen or heard anything 
of it ; but, although I was honoured with a seat 
in the Governor's box at the commencement of 
the performance, yet I did not long profit by it, 
for one of his aide-de-camps, happening to be 
married, and his lady happening also to come in 
during the first scene, I was obliged to resign my 
situation, happy to have it in my power to 
accomodate a fair one. The play was Othello, 
and by what I have been able to collect from the 
opinions of those who were more advantageously 
situated for seeing and hearing than myself, I did 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

not experience a very severe loss from my com- 
plaisance. I believe the Admiral was not much 
better amused than I was, for, at the expiration of 
the first act, he proposed departing, which I very 
readily agreed to, as I had for some time found 
the house Insufferably close and hot. I hardly 
need add that the evening was not quite so pro- 
ductive of pleasure to me as the last theatrical 
representation I had witnessed, which was at 
Covent Garden some time in the beginning of 
February last, when I had the honour of being 
seated by a fair young lady, with whom I be- 
came slightly acquainted the preceding year at 

*' Do you happen to recollect anything of the 
evening ? I think you do, and that you will not 
readily forget it. 

" October i8. — The hopes with which I had 
flattered myself of getting out of the Straits two 
days ago have not been realised, and, from the 
circumstances which have since occurred, it is 
very uncertain when we shall get to the fleet 
again. The wind on the evening of the 15th 
came to the westward and forced us back to 
Tetuan, where we remained till yesterday evening, 
at which time a frigate came over with orders for 
Admiral Louis to give protection to a convoy then 
collected at Gibraltar for Malta, as far as Carta- 
gena, after which he is to return to the Com- 


A Melancholy Situation" 

mander-in-Chief. We accordingly came over to 
the Rock this morning, and are now proceeding as 
fast as possible with the trade to the eastward. 
Our force consists of five sail of the line and 
three frigates, which last we shall leave in charge 
of the convoy as soon as we have seen them safe 
past the Carthagena squadron. I can't say I 
much like the prospect. I do not expect to derive 
any advantage from it, and it puts us completely 
out of the way in case the enemy should make an 
attempt to get to sea, which is by no means im- 
probable, if he knows Lord Nelson's force is 
weakened by the detachment of so many ships. 
It is since I last wrote to you I believe that your 
No. 3 has come to hand ; it was brought by 
Brigadier-General Tilson, and was enclosed under 
cover from Henry. It has been months on the 
journey. There are still three of yours missing, 
Nos. 5, 6 and 7, some of which I suppose are 
gone to seek me in the West Indies, but I trust 
they will do so in vain there. We have heard 
from the fleet off Cadiz, and learn that it has 
been reinforced by the arrival of five men-of-war 
from England, some of which I hope have brought 
letters, or they might as well have stayed away. 
Sir Robert Calder is gone home in the Prince of 
Wales, which I am sorry has happened during our 
absence, as by it a very fine opportunity of writ- 
ing has been lost, which is always a source of 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

regret to me when it occurs. I cannot, however, 
accuse myself of any neglect, and you will, I hope, 
as readily acquit me of it ; indeed, when you know 
the circumstances, I am sure you will, though I 
daresay you will feel rather disappointed to hear 
a man-of-war has arrived from the Cadiz fleet 
and find no letter arrived from me, unless you 
happened to recollect that I expected to go to 
Gibraltar and, therefore, would probably have been 
absent when she left the station. 

''October 21. — We have just bid adieu to the 
convoy, without attending them quite so far as 
was originally intended, having this day received 
intelligence, by a vessel despatched in pursuit of 
us, that on Saturday, 19th, the enemy's fleet was 
actually under way, and coming out of Cadiz. 

** Our situation is peculiarly unpleasant and dis- 
tressing, for if they escape Lord Nelson's vigil- 
ance and get into the Mediterranean, which is not 
very likely, we shall be obliged, with our small 
force, to keep out of their way ; and on the other 
hand, should an action take place, it must be 
decided long before we could possibly get down 
even were the wind fair, which at present it is not. 
As I have no doubt but the event would be highly 
honourable to our arms, and be at the same time 
productive of some good prizes, I shall have to 
lament our absence on such an occasion on a 
double account, the loss of pecuniary advantage 


" A Melancholy Situation " 

as well as of professional credit. And after having 
been so many months in a state of constant and 
unremitting fag, to be at last cut out by a parcel 
of folk just come from their homes, where some 
of them were sitting at their ease the greater 
part of last war, and the whole of this, till just 
now, is particularly hard and annoying. 

" You, perhaps, may not feel this so forcibly as 
I do, and in your satisfaction at my having avoided 
the danger of battle may not much regret my 
losing the credit of having contributed to gain a 
victory ; not so myself ! 

'* I do not profess to like fighting for its own 
sake, but if there have been an action with the 
combined fleets I shall ever consider the day on 
which I sailed from the squadron as the most in- 
auspicious one of my life. 

" October 27, off Tetuan. — Alas ! my dearest 
Mary, all my fears are but too fully justified. 
The fleets have met, and, after a very severe con- 
test, a most decisive victory has been gained by 
the English twenty-seven over the enemy's thirty- 
three. Seventeen of the ships are taken and one 
is burnt ; but I am truly sorry to add that this 
splendid affair has cost us many lives, and amongst 
them the most invaluable one to the nation, that 
of our gallant, and ever-to-be-regreted, Com- 
mander-in-Chief, Lord Nelson, who was mortally 
wounded by a musket shot, and only lived long 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

enough to know his fleet successful. In a public 
point of view, I consider his loss as the greatest 
which could have occurred ; nor do I hesitate to 
say there is not an Admiral on the list so eminently- 
calculated for the command of a fleet as he was. 
I never heard of his equal, nor do I expect again 
to see such a man. To the soundest judgment 
he united prompt decision and speedy execution 
of his plans ; and he possessed in a superior 
degree the happy talent of making every class of 
persons pleased with their situation and eager to 
exert themselves in forwarding the public service. 
As a national benefit I cannot but rejoice that our 
arms have been once again successful, but at the 
same time I cannot help feeling how very unfor- 
tunate we have been to be away at such a moment, 
and, by a fatal combination of unfortunate though 
unavoidable events, to lose all share in the glory 
of a day which surpasses all which ever went 
before, is what I cannot think of with any degree 
of patience ; but, as I cannot write upon that 
subject without complaining, I will drop it for the 
present, till time and reflection reconcile me a 
little more to what I know is now inevitable. 

**We arrived off the Rock of Gibraltar two 
days ago, and having heard of the action as well 
as that our fleet was in want of assistance to repair 
their damages and secure their prizes, we pro- 
ceeded on with a fine, fresh wind at east to run 



" A Melancholy Situation " 

through the Straits ; but before we were out of 
sight of the garrison the wind chopped round to 
the westward, directly in our teeth, and came on 
to blow a very heavy gale of wind, which effec- 
tually prevented our proceeding. We bore away 
for this place and wait a change of wind and 
weather, not a little anxious for our friends out- 
side, who could have been but ill prepared to 
encounter such a severe storm as they must have 
experienced on a lee shore, and probably with 
crippled masts. Indeed, I hardly expect to hear 
they have all escaped. 

"Off Cadiz, October 31. — Having at length 
effected our escape from the Mediterranean prison 
and rejoined our friends, I will proceed to such 
particulars as have come to my ears relative to 
the action, and present situation of our ships. 
The object of the enemy was avowedly to get 
into the Mediterranean, but at the same time they 
did not, as their conduct proved, wish to avoid a 
battle, expecting, no doubt, their superiority would 
have ensured them at least a drawn action, and 
that they would have disabled our fleet so much 
as to deprive us of the means to prevent their 
proceeding to Toulon ; but in this they were for- 
tunately mistaken. Indeed, they acknowledge 
that they had considered Lord Nelson's whole 
force as only twenty-seven, and knowing that he 
had detached six into the Mediterranean expected 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

to find him with only twenty-one ships, and the 
irregular mass in which our ships bore down to the 
attack prevented their counting them, so that till 
after the action was closed the French Admiral 
did not discover how great a force he had en- 
countered. The van of our fleet which led the 
attack have suffered very much, especially the 
Victory, Royal Sovereign, Tdmdraire, Belleisle, 
Mars, and Bellerophon ; but some of the rear 
vessels hardly got into action at all. Had we 
been there our station would have been the fifth 
ship from the van, and I trust we should have had 
our share. 

** The battle was hardly concluded when the 
weather set in so stormy (and continued so for 
nearly a week) as to prevent our taking possession 
of many ships which had surrendered, and of 
keeping several others. Nineteen are known to 
have struck ; four of which have since got into 
Cadiz ; three are in our possession ; and the rest, 
to the number of twelve, are either burnt, sunk, or 
driven on shore. Of thirteen, which are now in 
Cadiz, out of their whole force the greatest part 
have lost nearly all their masts, and are so com- 
pletely disabled as to make it impossible they can 
be again ready for service during the winter. On 
the whole, therefore, we may fairly consider their 
loss as equal to twenty sail of the line. 

** Our ships have been so much dispersed since 


^^ A Melancholy Situation" 

the action, by the blowing weather, that Admiral 
Collingwood has not yet been able to collect re- 
ports of their damages or loss ; but he has strong 
reason to hope every ship has been able to keep 
off the shore, and are now in safety. The action 
appears in general to have been obstinately con- 
tested, and has doubtless been unusually bloody ; 
but it has also been so decisive as to make it im- 
probable the Spaniards or French will again risque 
a meeting with a British fleet. Had it taken place 
in the open sea, away from the rocks, shoals, and 
leeshores there is no doubt but every ship would 
have been taken, but we engaged them under 
every disadvantage of situation. 

'' I was on board the Euryalus yesterday, in 
which ship Admiral Collingwood has his flag at 
present, and was introduced to the French 
Admiral Villeneuve, who is a prisoner there. He 
appears to be about forty-five years of age, of 
dark complexion, with rather an unmeaning coun- 
tenance, and has not much the appearance of a 
gentleman. He is, however, so much of a 
Frenchman as to bear his misfortunes with 

** I do not yet know in what way we are to be 
employed, but imagine that, as the Canopus is a 
perfect ship at present, we shall be left with such 
others as are fit to remain at sea, to watch the 
enemy in the port ; while those ships which have 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

been damaged will go to Gibraltar to refit. Many 
of them will, I daresay, be sent home, as well 
because proper masts cannot be procured for 
them here, as that it will now be unnecessary to 
keep so large a fleet on this station. 

" By the death of Lord Nelson I have again 
lost all chance of a frigate. I had asked his lord- 
ship to appoint me to one when he had the 
opportunity, and, though I had no positive pro- 
mise from him, I have reason to believe he would 
have attended to my wishes. Of Admiral Colling- 
wood I do not know enough to allow of my making 
a similar request ; and not having been in the 
action I have no claims of service to urge in sup- 
port of my wishes. I must, therefore, remain in 
the CanopuSy though on many accounts I am 
more than ever anxious to get into a frigate. 

** November 4. — We have just rejoined the fleet 
after having been detached to examine the coast 
and assist distressed ships, and hear the Euryalus 
is to sail very shortly for England with the 
Admiral's despatches, containing, I presume, the 
details of the action, with the particular loss of 
each ship, all of which you will learn from the 
public papers more correctly than I can possibly 
relate them, for, indeed, I have as yet learnt 
scarce anything more than I have already given 

** I am anxiously expecting letters from England, 


" A Melancholy Situation *' 

and as our last news from Lisbon mentioned four 
packets being due I hope soon to hear of their 
arrival, and to be again blessed with the sight 
of a well-known handwriting, which is always a 
cordial to my heart, and never surely did I stand 
more in need of some such support. I yesterday 
received a letter from Henry, dated the ist of 
October, which was brought out by Captain 
Mac Kay of the Scout, who is an acquaintance of 
mine, and an intimate friend of my brother 
Charles. The Scoiit came away on too short a 
notice to admit of Henry's writing to you or he 
would have done it. He sends me pleasing 
accounts of all my family, which is, of course, 
gratifying to me. 

** I must now, my dearest love, bid you farewell, 
having said all I had got to say. Make my 
kindest remembrances to all your family at Rams- 
gate and elsewhere." 

Miss Gibson must, indeed, have been hard- 
hearted if she did not acquit her lover of neglect 
on receiving such a letter as this while he was on 
active service. It is written, as was usual, on one 
large sheet of notepaper, the ** envelope," that is the 
fourth page, full, except where the folds come out- 
side, and the whole crossed in the fine, neat hand- 
writing of the day, very like that of Jane Austen 

l6l L 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

The scene in Cadiz Bay, after the action of 
Trafalgar, can be imagined from the few facts 
given in the log of the Canopus on her arrival 
from Tetuan. 

''October 30, at 11, saw a French ship of the 
line dismasted at the entrance of the harbour. 
On standing in to reconnoitre the position of the 
enemy's ship it was judged impossible to bring 
her out with the wind as it was, and that it was 
not worth the risque of disabling one of the 
squadron in an attempt to destroy her. She 
appeared to be warping fast in, and to have a 
great length of hawser laid out. The batteries 
fired several shells over us. 

** 31^/. — Passed the Juno and a Spanish 74 at 
anchor. The Spanish vessel, San Ildefonso, had 
lost all her masts, but was then getting up jury 

** At a quarter past four, closed the Euryalus, 
having Vice-Admiral Collingwood's flag, shortened 
sail and hove to. The Admiral (also the Captain) 
went on board the Euryalus. Several ships at 
anchor around us. 

** A French frigate and brig, with flags of truce, 
in the squadron. 

** At four we had passed the Ajax^ Leviathan, 
and Orion at anchor, all of them, to appearance, 
but little damaged in the action. The Leviathan 
was fishing her main yard, and the Ajax shifting 


^' A Melancholy Situation " 

her fore-top mast. A large ship, supposed to be 
the Temh-aire, was at anchor to the northward of 
San Luca, with fore and mizen-top masts gone ; 
and eight others were seen from the masthead to 
the W.N.W. 

^'November i. — Saw the wreck of a ship lying 
on the Marragotes shoal. 

'''November 19. — Saw the Tdmiraire, Royal 
Sovereign, Tonnant, Leviathan, and Mars. These 
five ships are returning here under jury masts, 
having suffered considerably in the action of the 
2 1st ult. 

" The Sovereign was in tow of the Leviathan, 
which seemed to be the most perfect ship of the 

The Canopus, as Francis Austen foresaw, was 
left at Cadiz with those ships which had suffered 
but slightly, as well as those which had shared 
their own hard fate of being out of the action 
altogether. Here they stayed till the end of the 
month, awaiting further developments. 




Francis Austen in the letter to Miss Gibson 
expresses two wishes, neither of which was to be 

He never got into a frigate, as he himself 

Service in a frigate would have been more 
exciting, as well as more profitable, than in a ship 
of the line. The frigates got the intelligence, and 
secured most prizes. 

His other wish, that his letters might seek him 
in vain in the West Indies, was also not to be 
gratified, for before two months were over he was 
again on the passage thither, though whether he 
had the consolation of meeting his letters is another 
matter. As this voyage culminated in the action 
of St. Domingo, and the capture of several valu- 
able prizes, the need for ** comfort and support" 
was certainly not so great as after the disappoint- 
ment of missing Trafalgar. How great that dis- 
appointment was his letter testifies. And some- 


St. Domingo 

thing must be added to, rather than taken away 
from, this, In allowing for his natural reserve. 
From a man of his temperament every word 
means more than if Charles had been the writer. 
The fact that the log of the Canopus, on the day 
when the news of Trafalgar was received, is 
headed "Off Gibraltar, a melancholy situation," 
is the only Indication to be found there of the state 
of feeling on board. Otherwise, there is nothing 
but rejoicing in the greatness and completeness of 
the victory, and sorrow at the death of the Com- 

The account of this second cruise begins with 
the arrival of Sir John Duckworth. 

''November 15. Superb (Vice-Admiral Sir John 
Duckworth) ^xi^Powerful]o\\^^^i company off Cape 
St. Mary (Portugal). 

** Order of sailing : 









'' November 2C). — Saw a man-of-war in theE.N.E. 
standing towards us ; perceived the stranger had 
the signal flying to speak with the Admiral, and 
for having Intelligence to communicate. The Aga- 
memnon showed her number, and made telegraph 
signal * Information of the enemy's squadron. Six 
sail of the line off Madeira.' 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

" Let off rockets to draw the attention of the 
squadron in the W.N.W. 

" Sir Edward Berry came on board, and stated 
that at eight yesterday evening, Captain Langford 
of the Lark informed him that on the 20th of this 
month he fell in with a French squadron of six 
ships of the line, three frigates and two brigs, in 
Lat. 30 N., Long. 19 W., which chased his convoy 
to the S.S.E. He escaped by altering his course 
in the night. Two days after he fell in with the 
West India outward-bound convoy, and was 
directed by Captain Lake of the Topaz to proceed 
with the intelligence to the senior officer off 

This news was confirmed on December i, and 
by the 5th the whole squadron had reached 
Madeira, only to find, as usual, that the enemy 
had gone somewhere else. They went on to the 
Canary Islands, still cruising in search of the 
French. The entries on December 24 and 25 tell 
of the meeting with and chase of another squadron, 
not that which was afterwards engaged at St. 

'^December 24, Arethusa and convoy met the 
enemy's squadron which we were in search of on 
December 16 in Lat. 40, Long. 13. The convoy 
dispersed, and it is hoped that none were taken. 
By the last accounts from the Continent, the 
French had suffered an important check, in which 


St. Domingo 

8026 were taken beside those killed." This was, 
of course, an entirely unfounded report, as no 
severe check had occurred to Napoleon s arms, in 
fact the great victory of Austerlitz was just won. 

** December 25, half-past six a.m., saw seven sail 
in the S.W. ; tacked ship and made all sail. 
Answered signal for a general chace. Perceived 
the strangers to be vessels of war, and not Eng- 
lish. At eight, answered signal to prepare for 
battle, at nine tacked, at ten cleared the ship for 
action. Light baffling airs. The strange squadron 
standing to the southward under all sail ; Superb, 
Spencer, and Agamemnon south, six or seven miles; 
Powerful, N.W., three miles; Donegal diwd Ame- 
thyst, S.S.W., four or five miles ; Acasta, E. by S., 
one mile. 

''At sunset the chace just in sight ahead from 
the top-gallant yard. Our advanced ships S.E. 
five or six leagues. At six lost sight of all the 
squadron but the Donegal and Powerful. 

*' When the strange sails were first seen, they 
appeared to be steering to the S.W., and to be a 
good deal scattered, the nearest being about ten 
miles from us, and some barely in sight from the 
deck. They all were seen to make a multiplicity 
of signals, and it was soon discovered, from their 
sails, signals, and general appearance, that they 
were French. 

''Their force was five ships of the line and two 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

frigates. At eight o'clock the weathermost bore 
down as if to form a line of battle, and, shortly after 
that, made all sail on the larboard tack. Owing 
to the baffling and varying winds, and the enemy 
catching every puff first, we had the mortification 
of seeing them increase their distance every 

It is clear that the escape of this squadron was 
largely due to the slow sailing of some of these 
ships. The Canopus herself did not sail well in 
light winds, having been more than two years in 
commission without docking, and the Powerful, a 
few days afterwards, sprung her foreyard, and had 
to be detached from the squadron. At the end of 
the chase, the distance between the leading ship, 
Superb, and the Donegal, the last of the squadron, 
is estimated in James' Naval History at forty-five 

The squadron then made sail for Barbadoes in 
order to revictual, and, after coming in for a heavy 
gale, arrived there on January 12. On the nth, 
news was received by a vessel from England, 
which had been spoken, that Denmark had joined 
the coalition against France. 

It is perhaps noteworthy that the highest records 
in any of these logs are those during the gale on 
January 8, 9, and 10, when the Canopus attained 
ten knots per hour, and made six hundred and 
sixty-one miles in three days. 


St. Domingo 

Rear-Admiral Cochrane joined the squadron 
with the Northumberland, and acted as second in 
command to Sir John Duckworth. He had held 
the same post under Nelson in June 1805, ^^^ 
the few days when the fleet was in West Indian 

From Barbadoes they went on to St. Chris- 
topher. It is an instance of the difficulties of war- 
fare in the then state of the Navy, that thirteen 
men took the opportunity of the Canopus being 
anchored close inshore to desert from her, by 
swimming ashore in the night. No doubt similar 
trouble was felt on other ships of the squadron. 

" On February i , Kingfisher brought intelli- 
gence that a Danish schooner belonging to Santa 
Cruz had, on January 25, seen a squadron of French 
men-of-war, seven of the line and four frigates, in 
the Mona passage. The master was on board the 
Alexandre, a 74, and the Brave, a three-decker, 
where he was informed they were part of a 
squadron of ten of the line, and ten frigates and 
one brig, which had sailed from Brest forty days 
before, and had separated in crossing the Atlantic. 

''February 2. At four the Superb made signal 
for the flag-officers of the squadron." 

On February 3 this intelligence of the arrival 
of the enemy at St. Domingo was confirmed, and 
great must have been the joy thereat. 

On February 6 took place the battle of St. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

Domingo. The log gives an account which is 
bare of all detail, except that which is entirely 

"At daylight the frigates ahead six or seven 

^'Extent of land N.E. by E., and N.W. by W. ; 
nearest part three or four leagues. Acasta made 
signal for one sail W.N.W. at a quarter past six, 
* That the strange sail had been observed to fire 

" Half-past six, * For eight sail W.N.W.' 

** A quarter before seven, * Enemy's ships of war 
are at anchor.' 

** Ten minutes to seven, * Enemy's ships are 
getting under way." 

** Five minutes before seven, 'Enemy's ships are 
of the line.' 

** At seven, saw eight sail under the land, stand- 
ing to the westward, under press of sail. Answered 
signal, * Prepare for battle.' 

** At eight, signal, * Engage as coming up with 
the enemy, and take stations for mutual support.' 

" Five minutes past eight, ' Make all sail pos- 
sible, preserving the same order.' Perceived the 
enemy's force to consist of one three-decker, four 
two-deckers, two frigates, and a corvette. 

"At a quarter past ten, the Superb commenced 
to fire on the enemy's van. At twenty past ten, 
the Northumberland and Spencer began firing. 


St. Domingo 

At half-past, we opened our fire on the first ship 
in the enemy's line, at that time engaged by the 
Spencer, passing close across her bows, with one 
broadside brought her masts by the board. Stood 
on towards the three-decker, firing occasionally 
at her and two other of the enemy's ships, as we 
could get our guns to bear. All the squadron in 

*' At a quarter to eleven, the Atlas ran on board 
of us, and carried away our bowsprit, but got clear 
without doing us material damage. 

** At ten minutes to eleven, the dismasted ship 
struck, as did shortly after two others. Engaged 
with the three-decker, which appeared to be push- 
ing for the shore. At ten minutes to twelve, gave 
her a raking broadside, which brought down her 
mizen mast, and appeared to do great damage to 
her stern and quarter. 

** At twelve o'clock she ran ashore. Wore ship 
and fired our larboard broadside at the remaining 
two-decker, which was also making for the shore. 
At ten past twelve, discontinued the action." 

A rather more stirring account of the action is 
given in a private letter from an officer on board 
the Superb, 

This letter also contains the story of the chase 
of the former squadron on Christmas Day. 

*' After leaving Lord Collingwood we fell in 
with a French squadron on December 25, off the 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

Canaries, which we now know was commanded by- 
Jerome Bonaparte. 

'* You cannot conceive the joy expressed by 
every one on board. Every individual thought 
himself a king, and expected that day to be one of 
the happiest Christmases he had ever spent. But 
from the very bad sailing of several ships of the 
fleet, Jerome had the good luck to escape, and the 
joy of the squadron was turned into melancholy, 
which had not altogether worn off until we found 
the squadron at St. Domingo (quite a different one). 
I can give you very little idea of the exultation ex- 
pressed by every countenance when we were 
certain of bringing them to action. The scene was 
truly grand, particularly when you consider the 
feelings on board the two squadrons, the one 
making every exertion to get away, and deter- 
mined to run the gauntlet in order to escape, and 
the other straining every nerve to prevent their 
flight. They were at this time going before the 
wind, and we were endeavouring to cross them, in 
order to prevent the possibility of their escape, 
which fortunately, from the superior sailing of the 
Superb, we were able to effect. 

" The enemy brought their two largest ships to- 
gether (/'^/^^(^;e^r^, the headmost, 2i,ndr Impiriale) 
seemingly with a view to quiet the fire of the 
English Admiral in the Superb, before any of the 
other ships could come up ; but in this they were 


St. Domingo 

disappointed, for the second broadside from the 
Superb fortunately did such execution on board 
the enemy's headmost ship, r Alexandre, that she 
became quite unmanageable and lost her station. 
The three-decker was by this time within pistol- 
shot of the Superb, and apparently reserving her 
fire for us ; but at this critical moment Admiral 
Cochrane in the Northumberland came up, and 
notwithstanding the small distance between the 
Superb and rimpdriale, he gallantly placed her be- 
tween us, and received the whole broadside of the 
largest, and esteemed the finest, ship in the French 
navy. Several of the shot passed quite through the 
JNorthumberland into the Superb. The action then 
became general, and, as you must be already in- 
formed, terminated most honourably for the 
British Navy ; for although the enemy was a little 
inferior, yet, according to the most accurate calcu- 
lation, they were entirely annihilated in the short 
space of one hour." 

According to the log of the Canopus, the time 
seems to have been nearer two hours than one, 
but something must be allowed for the enthusiasm 
of the young officer who writes this letter, and his 
pride in the very ** superior sailing" and other 
perfections of the Superb. 

Jerome Bonaparte was not in command of the 
whole squadron sighted on Christmas Day, but 
was captain of one of the ships, the Veteran. He 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

soon became tired of the sea, however, finding the 
throne of WestphaHa more congenial to his tastes. 
The exact comparison between the enemy's force 
and that of our own is given in the log. 








• 74 


Le Diomede . 

. 80 



. 74 


Ulmperiale . 

. 120 



• 74 


VA lexandre . 

. 80 



. 64 


Le Jupitre 

• 74 


Canopus . 

. 80 


Le Brave 

. 74 



. 74 



. 74 


Frigates, &c. 


. 40 


La Comette . 

. 40 



. 36 


La Felicite . 

. 40 


Kingfisher . 

. 36 


La Diligente . 

. 24 


Epervier . 

. 16 


The following letter was written by Captain 
Austen to Mary Gibson on the day after the action : 

" Canopus, off St. Domingo, February 7, 1806. 

**My dearest Mary, — The news of an action with 
an enemy's squadron flies like wildfire in England, 
and I have no doubt but you will have heard of 
the one we had yesterday soon after the vessel 
which goes home shall arrive. It will, therefore, I 
am sure, be a source of satisfaction to you and my 
other friends at Ramsgate to have proof under my 
own hand of my having escaped unhurt from the 
conflict. We had intelligence while laying at St. 




St. Domingo 

Kitts, on the 2nd instant, that a French squadron 
had arrived at St. Domingo, and immediately 
quitted that place in pursuit. Happily yesterday 
morning at daylight we got sight of them at 
anchor off the town of St. Domingo, consisting of 
one ship of 120 guns, two of 80, two of 74, and 
three frigates. Soon as we appeared in view, they 
got under sail, not to meet, but to avoid us. We 
had one 80-gun ship, five of 74, and one of 
64, besides two frigates and four corvettes. Our 
situation was such as to prevent their escape. The 
action commenced at half-past ten, and was finally 
over by half-past twelve, when three of the enemy's 
ships were in our possession, and the other two 
dismasted and on the rocks. The frigates escaped. 
Had we been two miles farther off the land we 
should have got the whole. We must, however, 
be truly thankful for the mercies which have been 
showed us in effecting such a victory with a com- 
paratively inconsiderable loss. The Admiral is 
sending the prizes, and such of our own ships as 
have suffered most, to Jamaica, where, I suppose, 
we shall follow as soon as we have ascertained that 
the two ships on shore are in such a state as to 
prevent their getting ofF again. I am in hopes 
this action will be the means of our speedy quitting 
this country, and perhaps to return to Old England. 
Oh, how my heart throbs at the idea! The Canopus 
sails so bad that we were nearly the last ship in 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

action ; when we did get up, however, w^e had our 
share of it. Our people behaved admirably well, 
and displayed astonishing coolness during the 
whole time. 

*' The first broadside we gave brought our oppo- 
nent's three masts down at once, and towards the 
close of the business we also had the satisfaction 
of giving the three-decker a tickling which 
knocked all his sticks away. We were so inter- 
mingled with the enemy that it was impossible to 
confine our attack to one, and though no one vessel 
struck to us in particular, I am sure we had a share 
in each. The Admiral is sending off his des- 
patches, and I have only a few minutes which I 
have been able to steal from my duty on deck to 
write these few hurried lines. They will, I trust, 
be equal to a volume. . . . 

** P.S. — We have not suffered much in masts and 
rigging, and I fancy not an officer is killed in the 
whole squadron." 

The work of repairs had immediately to be con- 
sidered after the action was over, and no doubt the 
**duty on deck" was very exacting when Francis 
Austen managed to snatch time to scrawl this 
letter for the relief of anxious ones at home. 

The end of the two ships which ran on shore is 
given in the log. 

''February 9, at eight. Saw the two ships which 

St. Domingo 

ran on shore during the action of the 6th, appear- 
ing to be full of water and quite wrecks. 

"Observed the frigates to fire several guns at 
them. At 9 shortened sail and hove to. The 
Epervier stood towards the wrecks with a flag of 
truce. Epervier made telegraph signal : * There 
are about twenty men on board the three-decker, 
and sixty on board the two-decker. Boats can 
approach ; take them off, and fire the hulls if 

'' Admiral made telegraph signal : * Send two 
boats to the Acasta to assist in bringing off pri- 
soners.' At a quarter past four, observed the 
wrecks to be on fire." 

Soon after they were all on the passage towards 

On February 1 2, an amusing incident is logged. 
Amusing it is in our eyes, though perfectly seriously 

'*i2. Acasta made telegraph signals: An 
American ship four days from Trinidad. The 
master reports that he saw there an English gazette, 
containing particulars of great successes gained by 
the allied powers on the Continent over the French, 
who are stated to have been everywhere beaten, 
their armies destroyed, and Bonaparte flying or 
killed. This had been brought to Trinidad by the 
mail boat from Barbadoes, and the garrison fired 
a night salute on the joyful occasion." 

177 M 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

This was, of course, quite at variance with facts. 

The voyage home from Jamaica was uneventful, 
except for the constant trouble given by H Alex- 
andre, which had evidently been badly damaged in 
the action, and had at last to be taken in tow. It 
was a happier home-coming for Captain Austen 
than he had looked forward to soon after Trafalgar. 
To return after a successful action with three 
prizes in company was a better fate than had then 
seemed possible. 

They arrived on April 29, when the record 
stands : 

'* Saw the lighthouse of St. Agnes bearing 
N.N.E. by E., distant six or seven leagues ; made 
signal for seeing land," with what feelings it is 
easier to imagine than to describe. Such a de- 
scription has been attempted over and over again, 
with varying degrees of success. Jane Austen 
tells of a sailor's leave-taking and return only once, 
and then, as is her way, by the simple narration of 
details. Anne Elliot and Captain Harville are 
having the time-honoured argument as to the rela- 
tive strength of the feelings of men and women, 
and to illustrate his point Captain Harville says : 
*' If I could but make you comprehend what a man 
suffers when he takes a last look at his wife and 
children, and watches the boat he has sent them 
off in, as long as it is in sight, and then turns away 
and says, * God knows whether we ever meet 


St. Domingo 

again.' And then if I could convey to you the 
glow of his soul when he does see them again ; 
when coming back after a twelvemonths' absence, 
perhaps, he calculates how soon it be possible to 
get them there, pretending to deceive himself, and 
saying, * They cannot be here till such a day,' but 
all the while hoping for them twelve hours sooner, 
and seeing them arrive at last, as if heaven had 
given them wings, by many hours sooner still. If 
I could explain to you all this, and all that a man 
can bear and do, and glories to do for the sake of 
these treasures of his existence. . ." 

Jane Austen must, indeed, have known some- 
thing of the feelings of ** such men as have hearts," 
and the troubles and joys of the seafaring life. 

Several of the West Indian Governments and 
Trading Associations voted addresses, as well as 
more substantial recognition, to the Admirals and 
officers engaged at St. Domingo, who also received 
the thanks of Parliament on their return to 




During the cruises of the Canopus, we have only 
one letter from Jane Austen with any mention of 
Frank, and that is before his disappointment of 
Trafalgar, or his success at St. Domingo. The 
full quotation serves to show some of the difficulties 
of correspondence. She writes to Cassandra : '* I 
have been used very ill this morning. I have 
received a letter from Frank which I ought to have 
had when Elizabeth and Henry had theirs, and 
which in its way from Albany to Godmersham has 
been to Dover and Steventon. It was finished 
on the 1 6th, and tells what theirs told before as 
to his present situation ; he is in a great hurry to 
be married, and I have encouraged him in it, in 
the letter which ought to have been an answer to 
his. He must think it very strange that I do not 
acknowledge the receipt of his, when I speak of 
those of the same date to Eliz and Henry, and 
to add to my injuries, I forgot to number mine on 
the outside." This plan of numbering was a 


The Cape and St. Helena 

certain safeguard against misunderstandings, as it 
made it easy to find out if a letter had been lost. 
The '' present situation " was that off Ushant, 
after the chase of Villeneuve across the Atlantic, 
and before the orders to return southward had 
been received. 

In July 1806, Francis was married to Mary 
Gibson, known hereafter by her sisters-in-law as 
*' Mrs. F. A." to distinguish her from the other 
Mary, '' Mrs. J. A." 

Among the many social functions subjected to 
Jane Austen's criticism, it is not likely that the 
absurdities of a fashionable marriage would escape 
her attention. The subject is treated with more 
than ordinary severity in '* Mansfield Park " — *' It 
was a very proper wedding. The bride was 
elegantly dressed, the two bridesmaids were duly 
inferior, her father gave her away, her mother 
stood with salts in her hand, expecting to be 
agitated, her aunt tried to cry, and the service 
was impressively read by Dr. Grant. Nothing 
could be objected to, when it came under the 
discussion of the neighbourhood, except that the 
carriage which conveyed the bride and bride- 
groom and Julia from the Church door to Sother- 
ton was the same chaise which Mr. Rushworth 
had used for a twelvemonth before. In every 
thing else the etiquette of the day might stand the 
strictest investigation." 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

Such was Jane Austen's comment on the 
worldly marriage. Her estimate of her own 
brother's wedding may be better gathered from 
the account of that of Mr. Knightly and Emma. 

** The wedding was very much like other 
weddings, where the parties have no taste for 
finery and parade ; and Mrs. Elton, from the 
particulars detailed by her husband, thought it 
all extremely shabby, and very inferior to her 
own, * very little white satin, very few lace veils ; 
a most pitiful business. Selina would stare when 
she heard of it.' But, in spite of these defi- 
ciencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the 
predictions of the small band of true friends 
who witnessed the ceremony were fully answered 
in the perfect happiness of the union." 

From the time of his marriage till the fol- 
lowing April, Francis was free to spend his time 
with his wife at Southampton, where they were 
settling not far from the house where his mother 
and sisters now lived. 

This time was evidently a very pleasant one 
for Jane. She makes several mentions of Frank 
and his wife and their common pursuits in her 
letters to Cassandra. 

** We did not take our walk on Friday, it was 
too dirty, nor have we yet done it ; we may 
perhaps do something like it to-day, as after seeing 
Frank skate, which he hopes to do in the 


The Cape and St. Helena 

meadows by the beach, we are to treat ourselves 
with a passage over the ferry. It is one of the 
pleasantest frosts I ever knew, so very quiet. I 
hope it will last some time longer for Frank's 
sake, who is quite anxious to get some skating ; 
he tried yesterday, but it would not do. 

** Our acquaintance increase too fast. He was 
recognised lately by Admiral Bertie, and a few 
days since arrived the Admiral and his daughter 
Catherine to wait upon us. There was nothing to 
like or dislike in either. To the Berties are to be 
added the Lances, with whose cards we have been 
endowed, and whose visit Frank and I returned 
yesterday. They live about a mile and three- 
quarters from S., to the right of the new road to 
Portsmouth, and I believe their house is one of 
those which are to be seen from almost anywhere 
among the woods on the other side of the Itchen. 
It is a handsome building, stands high, and in a 
very beautiful situation." 

The next letter is an answer to one from 
Cassandra delaying her return, evidently a matter 
of regret to the whole household. 

" Frank and Mary cannot at all approve of your 
not being at home in time to help them in their 
finishing purchases, and desire me to say that, 
if you are not, they will be as spiteful as pos- 
sible, and choose everything in the style most 
likely to vex you — knives that will not cut, 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

glasses that will not hold, a sofa without a seat, 
and bookcase without shelves. But I must tell 
you a story. Mary had for some time had 
notice from Mrs. Dickson of the intended arrival 
of a certain Miss Fowler in this place. Miss F. 
is an intimate friend of Mrs. D., and a good 
deal known as such to Mary. On Thursday last 
she called here while we were out. Mary found, 
on our return, her card with only her name on it, 
and she had left word that she would call again. 
The particularity of this made us talk, and, among 
other conjectures, Frank said in joke, ' I dare say 
she is staying with the Pearsons.' The connec- 
tion of the names struck Mary, and she im- 
mediately recollected Miss Fowler's having been 
very intimate with persons so called, and, upon 
putting everything together, we have scarcely a 
doubt of her actually being staying with the only 
family in the place whom we cannot visit. 

" What a contretemps ! — in the language ot 
France. What an unluckiness! — in that of 
Madame Duval. The black gentleman has cer- 
tainly employed one of his menial imps to bring 
about this complete, though trifling mischief. 
Miss Fowler has never called again, but we are In 
daily expectation of it. Miss P. has, of course, 
given her a proper understanding of the business. 
It is evident that Miss F. did not expect or wish 
to have the visit returned, and Francis is quite as 



The Cape and St. Helena 

much on his guard for his wife as we could desire 
for her sake or our own." 

What the mysterious disagreement with the 
Pearson family may have been it is impossible to 
tell. That it caused more amusement than heart- 
burn is clear, but Jane was always an adept, as 
she says herself, at constructing '' sl smartish letter, 
considering the want of materials." 

The next we hear of Frank (beyond the fact 
that he has '' got a very bad cold, for an Austen ; 
but it does not disable him from making very nice 
fringe for the drawing-room curtains ") is on the 
question of his further employment. He was very 
anxious indeed to get into a frigate, but feared 
that the death of Lord Nelson, who knew of his 
desire, would seriously damage his chances of 
getting what he wanted. Jane writes : '* Frank's 
going into Kent depends of course upon his 
being unemployed ; but as the First Lord, after 
promising Lord Moira that Captain A. should 
have the first good frigate that was vacant, has 
since given away two or three fine ones, he has no 
particular reason to expect an appointment now. 
He, however, has scarcely spoken about the 
Kentish journey. I have my information chiefly 
from her, and she considers her own going thither 
as more certain if he should be at sea than if not." 
This was in February 1807. Mrs. Frank Austen 
was very soon to feel the loneliness of a sailor's 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

wife. In April 1807, Captain Austen took 
command of the SL Albans^ then moored in Sheer- 
ness Harbour. 

Naval matters, though much better than they 
had been, were by no means in order yet, and 
great was the difficulty experienced in getting 
the ship properly equipped. Letter after letter 
was written by the Captain to "■ the principal 
Officers and Commissioners of His Majesty's 
Navy " before the ship could be got ready for 
sea, properly supplied with stores and men. It 
was not until late in June that they at last got 
away on convoying duty to the Cape of Good 

The account of Simon's Bay in the notebook 
of Francis Austen is interesting, when com- 
pared with the state of things now existing at 
the Cape. After sundry very instructive but 
entirely nautical directions for sailing in and out, 
and anchoring, he goes on to make a few remarks 
respectively on wooding and watering, fortifications 
and landing-places, trade and shipping and inha- 
bitants, from each of which we give extracts. 

*'Wood is not to be had here, except by 
purchase, and is extravagantly dear ; nor is there 
any sort of fuel to be procured. 

** Water is plentiful and of an excellent quality ; 
a stream is brought by pipes to the extremity 
of the wharf, where two boats may fill with 


The Cape and St. Helena 

hoses at the same time, but as the run of water 
which supplies it is frequently diverted to other 
purposes by the inhabitants, it is rather a tedious 
mode of watering, and better calculated for keeping 
up the daily consumption after being once com- 
pleted, than for supplying the wants of a squadron 
or ship arriving from a voyage. 

" The method generally used by the men-of-war 
is to land their casks on the sandy beach on the 
N. W. part of the bay, a little to the Westward of 
the North battery, where there are two or three 
considerable runs of water down the sides of the 
mountains, and make wells or dipping-places by 
sinking half-casks in the sand. In this way, many 
ships fill their water at the same time without at 
all interfering with or retarding each other's pro- 
gress. The casks so filled must be rafted off, as 
there is generally too much surf to get them into 
the boats, and when the South-easters set in 
strong it is impracticable to get them off at all. 
The casks may however remain on shore without 
injury, and being ready filled may be got off when 
the weather suits. Both watering-places are com- 
pletely commanded by the batteries as well as by 
the ships at anchorage. 

''The anchorage is protected and commanded 
by two batteries and a round tower. One on the 
South-east point of the bay, called the Block- 
house, on which are three twenty-four-pounders, 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

and a ten-inch mortar. It is elevated about thirty 
feet above the level of the sea, and commands the 
whole of the bay, as well as the passage into the 
westward of the Roman Rocks. 

** The round tower is close at the back of, and 
indeed may be considered as appertaining to the 
Block-house. It has one twenty-four-pounder 
mounted on a traversing carriage, and .contains 
very good barracks for fifty or sixty soldiers. The 
other, called the North Battery, is, as its name 
bespeaks, on the north side of the bay. It stands 
on a small rocky point between two sandy bays, on 
an elevation of twenty or twenty-five feet above 
the level of the sea, and is mounted with three 
long eighteen-pounders and two ten-inch mortars. 
Neither of these works could make much resistance 
if regularly attacked by sea or land, and are all 
completely commanded by higher ground in their 
rear within half cannon-shot. There is besides 
these another battery called Tucker's, about halt 
a mile to the southward of the Block-house, but 
not in sight from the anchorage ; on it are three 
eighteen-pounders. It was constructed in con- 
sequence of a French frigate running into the bay 
(not knowing it to be in the possession of the 
English) and getting aground somewhere near 
that spot. It is however so placed as to be of no 
use as a defence to the bay, for a ship, or 
squadron, coming in with hostile intentions need 


The Cape and St. Helena 

not, except from choice, pass within reach of its 
guns, and as a miHtary post it is confessedly 
untenable, being completely commanded by 
higher ground behind it. 

** The only regular landing-place is at the wharf 
which runs out about fifty yards into the sea, 
and is very convenient, having always sufficient 
water to allow of the largest boats when loaded 
to lie alongside it without taking the ground. In 
moderate weather, boats may, if required to do 
so, land in almost any part of the bay, and it 
is, except where the rocks show themselves, a 
beach of very fine sand. There is very little 
trade here, it having been chiefly used whilst in 
the possession of the Dutch as a kind of half-way 
house for their ships on their passage both to and 
from India and China. 

**The produce of those countries may however 
be generally procured, and on reasonable terms, as 
duties on importation are so moderate that the 
officers of the East India ships frequently find it 
worth their while to dispose of their private 
investments here, rather than carry them to 
England. There has been a whale fishery lately 
established by a few individuals in a bay about 
four miles to the north-east, called Calp's or Calk's 
Bay, which appears to be doing very well, but I 
imagine could not be very much extended. There 
is no ship or vessel whatever belonging to the 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

place, and only a few small boats used for the 
purposes of fishing. 

** The arsenal or naval yard is a compact row of 
storehouses under one roof, and enclosed with a 
wall and gates, well situated for its purpose, 
fronting a sandy beach and adjoining the wharf. 
It contains all the necessary buildings and accom- 
modations as a depot of naval and victualling 
stores on a small scale, adequate however to the 
probable wants of any squadron which is ever 
likely to be stationed there. 

**The inhabitantsare a mongrel breed, a mixture 
of many nations, but principally descended from 
the first Dutch settlers whose language (probably 
a good deal corrupted both in ideas and pro- 
nunciation) is in general use. The Government 
is now English, but the civil, as well as the 
criminal jurisprudence is regulated by the colonial 
laws, as originally established by the Dutch East 
India Company, somewhat modified and ameli- 
orated by the milder influence of English law. 
The prevailing religion is Calvinistic, but there 
are many Lutherans, and some of various sects." 

The contrast between the Cape in 1807 and the 
Cape in 1905 is so strong that it needs no em- 

After calling at Ascension Island and St. 
Helena, the 5/. Albaiis returned to England. 
The progress of contemporary history may be 


The Cape and St. Helena 

noted by the news which they received on their 
way back, which was duly logged : 

** By this ship informed of capture of Copen- 
hagen and the cession of the Danish fleet to the 
English forces under Lord Cathcart and Admiral 
Gambier.'' By January i they were back at 
Spithead, where they remained till the beginning 
of February, sailing thence, as was so often the 
custom, under sealed orders. On opening the 
sealed packet Captain Austen found that he was 
directed to accompany the convoy to St. Helena. 

The following account of the island is interest- 
ing when it is remembered that at that time it 
was an unimportant spot, not yet associated with 
memories of Napoleon. The note opens with a 
colossal sentence ! 

** This island being in the hands of the English 
East India Company, and used by it merely as a 
rendezvous for its homeward-bound fleets, where 
during time of war they are usually met at stated 
periods by some King's ship appointed to take 
them to England, has no trade but such as arises 
from the sale of those few articles of produce, con- 
sisting chiefly in poultry, fruit, and vegetables, 
which are beyond the consumption of its inhabit- 
ants, and a petty traffic carried on by a few shop- 
keepers, who purchase such articles of India and 
China goods, as individuals in the Company's 
ships may have to dispose of, which they retail 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

to the inhabitants and casual visitors at the 

**The inhabitants are chiefly English, or of 
English descent, although there is a considerable 
number of negroes on the island, which with very- 
few exceptions are the property of individuals or 
of the Company, slavery being tolerated here. 
It does not however appear that the slaves are or 
can be treated with that harshness and despotism 
which has been so justly attributed to the conduct 
of the land-holders or their managers in the West 
India Islands, the laws of the Colony not giving 
any other power to the master than a right to the 
labour of his slave. He must, to enforce that 
right, in case a slave prove refractory, apply to 
the civil power, he having no right to inflict 
chastisement at his own discretion. This is a 
wholesome regulation as far as it goes, but slavery 
however it may be modified is still slavery, and it 
is much to be regretted that any trace of it should 
be found to exist in countries dependent on 
England, or colonised by her subjects. Every 
person who is above the rank of a common 
soldier is in some shape or other a trader. A 
few acres of ground laid out in meadow, or garden 
ground, will seldom fail to yield as much produce 
in the year as would purchase the fee-simple of an 
equal quantity in England, and this from the 
extravagant price which the wants of the home- 


The Cape and St. Helena 

ward bound India ships (whose captains and pas- 
sengers rolling in wealth, and accustomed to pro- 
fusion, must have supplies cost what they may) 
enable the islanders to affix to every article they 
raise. To such an extent had this cause operated, 
that a couple of acres of potatoes, or a garden of 
cabbages in a favourable season will provide a 
decent fortune for a daughter." 

The voyage home was uneventful, retarded by 
masses of floating gulf weed, which continued 
very thick indeed for over a week. 

By the 30th of June the S^. Albans was back 
again in the Downs. The little stir consequent 
in the family life is indicated in Jane's letters, 
written when she was away from home at God- 
mersham. **One begins really to expect the 
St, Albans now, and I wish she may come before 
Henry goes to Cheltenham, it will be so much 
more convenient to him. He will be very glad if 
Frank can come to him in London, as his own 
time is likely to be very precious, but does not 
depend on it. I shall not forget Charles next 
week." A few days later she writes : "I am 
much obliged to you for writing to me on 
Thursday, and very glad that I owe the pleasure 
of hearing from you again so soon to such an 
agreeable cause ; but you will not be surprised, 
nor perhaps so angry as I should be, to find that 
Frank's history had reached me before in a letter 

193 ^ 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

from Henry. We are all very happy to hear of 
his health and safety, he wants nothing but a 
good prize to be a perfect character. This scheme 
to the island is an admirable thing for his wife, 
she will not feel the delay of his return in such 
variety." On the 30th : ** I give you all joy 
of Frank's return, which happens in the true 
sailor way, just after our being told not to expect 
him for some weeks. The wind had been very 
much against him, but I suppose he must be in our 
neighbourhood now by this time. Fanny is in 
hourly expectation of him here. Mary's visit in 
the island is probably shortened by this event. 
Make our kind love and congratulations to her." 
While on these last voyages Captain Austen 
made two charts, one of Simon's Bay, and one of 
the north-west side of the island of St. Helena, 
which are still in use at the Admiralty. An 
interesting point in the correspondence of the 
Captain of the SL Albans at this time relates to 
the conduct of the masters of the various vessels 
belonging to the convoy. They are very warmly 
commended for their skill and attention, while 
some few from the ** cheerfulness and alacrity with 
which they repeatedly towed for many succes- 
sive days some heavy sailing ships of the convoy, 
a service always disagreeable, and often dan- 
gerous," are specially recommended to the notice 
of the East India Company. No doubt such 


The Cape and St. Helena 

praise from captains of the men-of-war engaged 
in convoying, was a useful means of advancement 
in the service of the Company, and one which 
would be earnestly desired. It is an instance of 
the justice and appreciativeness which was a 
characteristic of Francis Austen that the master of 
the very ship which most retarded the progress of 
the convoy comes in for his share of praise, 
perhaps even warmer than that given to the more 
successful officers. **I cannot conclude without 
observing that the indefatigable attention of 
Captain Hay o{ xh^ Re treaty in availing himself of 
every opportunity to get ahead, and his uncommon 
exertions in carrying a great press of sail both 
night and day, which the wretched sailing of his 
ship, when not in tow, rendered necessary, was 
highly meritorious, and I think it my duty to 
recommend him to the notice of the Court of 
Directors as an officer deserving a better 

One incident of interest occurred on the return 
voyage, which can perhaps be better dealt with 
in another chapter. 




On June 20, 1808, on the 5/. Albans passage 
towards England, there is an entry In the log : 
*' Exchanged numbers with the Raven brig. The 
brig Is from off Lisbon. The French have taken 
possession of Spain. The Spanish Royal Family 
are prisoners In France. It Is not certainly known 
where the Rochefort squadron Is gone, but sup- 
posed Into the Mediterranean." 

This was the beginning of the Peninsular War, 
in its results disastrous to Napoleon. Napoleon's 
calm supposition that he could turn out the King 
of Spain and put In Joseph Bonaparte at his own 
pleasure, was formed without reference to the 
feelings of the people of Spain and Portugal ; and 
futile as their objections might have been If un- 
supported, their appeal to England was far-reach- 
ing in its consequences. Not only was the seat of 
war transferred to a country which, with Its long 
sea-coast, was favourable to British arms, but the 
actual naval gain was very great. Such ships of 


Stars and Stripes 

the French Navy as had escaped from Trafalgar 
were still lying in Cadiz, and had now no course 
open to them but surrender, while the Spanish and 
Portuguese fleets, on which Napoleon counted, 
were of course entirely hostile to him. 

The feeling in England over this war was very 
strong. Added to the hatred of Napoleon, which 
would have made almost any of his actions abhor- 
rent, there was a real impulse of generous anger 
at the oppression shown in pretending to buy the 
nation from its wretched King, in order to estab- 
lish a purely arbitrary dominion. At the same 
time it was a grave question whether Napoleon, 
with his many legions, was to be resisted success- 

As yet, however, Napoleon had not entered 
Spain, and Junot was in command of the French 
army in the West of the Peninsula. 

Sir Arthur Wellesley was first appointed to 
command the British expedition, but England does 
not always know her best men, and almost at once 
Sir Harry Burrard was despatched to take over 
the work. The battle of Vimiera was the first 
serious encounter, and, but for the hesitation of 
Burrard to follow up his advantage, might have 
been decisive. 

Sir Hew Dalrymple next day arrived from 
England to supersede Burrard, and after some 
vacillation, not unnatural under the circumstances, 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

between the policy of Wellesley and that of Burrard, 
he prepared to push on, and was met by French 
proposals of a Convention. The Convention of 
Cintra secured that the French should evacuate 
Portugal, leaving for France on board British 
ships, and as they were determined to take every- 
thingwith them that they could lay their hands on, 
this was not a bad arrangement for the French. 
Such, at least, was the opinion in England, and a 
court of inquiry soon came to the conclusion that it 
would have been better to leave the entire matter 
in the hands of Wellesley, who was first on the 
scene, and had consequently other qualifications 
for accurate judgment besides those which his 
genius gave him. 

Napoleon, however, saw very clearly how much 
harm the battle of Vimiera had done him, and came 
himself to Spain, enraged at Junot's defeat. The 
campaign of Sir John Moore, ending at Corunna, 
is too well known for any description to be neces- 
sary. The fact that Napoleon could not have 
everything his own way was established, and the 
struggle in the Peninsula went on, until it closed 
five years later with the capture of San Sebas- 

Some extracts from the log of the 5/. Albans 
and two letters, tell us of the small share which 
Francis Austen had in this business. " St. Albans, 
in the English Channel, July 2 2nd, 1808. Received 


Stars and Stripes 

on board Brigadier-General Anstruther with his 
staff and suite. Weighed and made sail, twenty- 
three sail of transports in company. 

''July 23. — At a quarter past nine hove to and 
called the masters of the transports on board by 
signal. Issued to them a sealed rendezvous." 

The transports were bad sailors, so it was 
not until August 5 that they got away from 
the English Channel on the passage towards Por- 
tugal. On the 1 2th, off Corunna, news was 
received from the Defiance^ which caused a devia- 
tion in the route in order to bring Anstruther into 
touch with Wellesley, who was then near Figuero, 
just before the battle of Vimiera. 

" August 16. — Saw a number of ships at anchor 
in Figuero Roads. At two o'clock Captain 
Malcolm came on board, and brought instructions 
for the General as to the disposition of the troops. 

''August 17. — Sent a boat with despatches for 
Sir Arthur Wellesley on board the transport sent 
from Figuero (for this purpose). 

''August 19. — At anchor off the Burlings. 
Light airs and cloudy weather. At three o'clock a 
Portuguese boat came alongside with a messenger 
having despatches for Brigadier- General An- 
struther from Sir Arthur Wellesley. At daylight 
a very thick fog. At eleven the fog cleared away, 
weighed and made sail to the southward. At 
three, anchored off Panago in company, hoisted out 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

all the boats and sent them to disembark the 
troops. At six, the General and his staff quitted 
the ship. Light airs and fine weather. All the 
boats of the fleet employed landing the troops." 

The landing went on all night, and was finished 
next morning. 

On Sunday, the 21st \ ** Observed an action 
between the English and French armies on the 
heights over Merceira." This was the battle of 
Vimiera, where Kellerman and Berthier vainly- 
endeavoured to dislodge the British from the crest 
of the hills. 

August 22. — '' Sent all the boats on shore to 
assist in taking off the wounded of our army to the 
hospital ships. Boats also employed embarking 
French prisoners on board some of the trans- 

August 24. — ''On the passage towards Oporto." 
Thence they went back to England, where on Sep- 
tember 2 the French prisoners were discharged 
at Spithead to the prison ships in the harbour. 

Two letters written to the Honble. W. Welles- 
ley Pole, brother of Sir Arthur Wellesley, give 
this story in a different form. 

'* St. Albans off the Burlings, August 18, 1808. 

"Sir, — I have to state to you for the information 
of my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that 
in consequence of intelligence respecting the 



Stars and Stripes 

British Army in Portugal, communicated by 
Captain Hotham, of his Majesty's ship Defiance^ 
on the 1 2th inst. off Corunna, Brigadier-General 
Anstruther commanding the troops embarked on 
board the transports under my convoy, requested 
us not to pass Figuera without affording him an 
opportunity of obtaining some further intelligence 
relative to the situation of Lieutenant-General Sir 
Arthur Wellesley ; with this, from existing cir- 
cumstances, I thought it my duty to comply, 
although contrary to the strict letter of my orders, 
and accordingly when round Cape Finisterre, 
steered for Cape Mondego, off which I arrived at 
noon on the i6th. The Brigadier-General receiv- 
ing there orders to proceed along the coast to the 
southward and join the convoy under his Majesty's 
ship Alfred, whose captain would give him further 
information respecting the position and operations 
of the army by which he was to guide his own, I 
proceeded in consequence thereof with the fleet, 
and yesterday at i p.m. joined the Alfred off 

'*At four o'clock, in compliance with the Briga- 
dier-General's wish, I anchored with the trans- 
ports under the Burlings, to prevent their disper- 
sion, and to await the arrival of directions from 
the Lieutenant-General, to whom an aide-de-camp 
was yesterday despatched to announce our arrival, 
force, and position. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

" One of my convoy, having a detachment of the 
2nd battalion of the 52nd Regiment on board, 
parted company on the night of the 12th instant, 
and has, I suppose, In compHance with the secret 
rendezvous I issued on the 23rd of July, proceeded 
off the Tagus. 

*' I have the honour to be. Sir, 

" Your obedient humble servant, 
*' Francis William Austen." 

From the same to the same. 

" St. Albans, Spithead, September 2, 1808. 

** Sir, — In my letter to you of the i8th ultimate 
from off the Burlings forwarded by the Kangaroo, 
I had the honour to announce for the information 
of my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, the 
arrival of his Majesty's ship St. Albans, and the 
transports under my charge at that anchorage. 
I have now to state to you, for their Lordships' 
further information, that the following morning 
the fleet moved on to the southward, and anchored 
at 3 P.M. off Paymago, where dispositions were 
immediately made for disembarking the troops, 
which was effected In the course of the night. 
On the 20th, I proceeded with the empty 
transports, agreeably to the directions I received 
from Captain Blight, to join the Alfred off 
Merceira, about six miles more to the southward, 
and anchoring there at noon of the 2 ist, remaining 


Stars and Stripes 

until the 24th, my boats being all that time 
employed in landing provisions and stores for the 
army, and embarking a number of French 
prisoners and wounded British soldiers on board 
such of the transports as had been appropriated 
for their reception. 

'* On the 24th at noon, in obedience to directions 
contained In a letter I received the evening before 
from Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, I put to sea 
with twenty-nine transports under my convoy, 
and proceeded with them off Oporto, where I 
anchored on the evening of the 27th, and remained 
for twenty-four hours until I had seen all safe 
over the bar. I then weighed, and, making the 
best of my way to England, anchored at Spithead 
at 8 A.M. this day." 

The SL Albans remained In British waters 
until March in the following year, for the greater 
part of the time at Spithead, where, in January 
1809, Captain Austen took charge of the dis- 
embarkation of the remains of Sir John Moore's 
army on their arrival from Corunna. 

Two of the very few references to public 
matters which occur in Jane Austen's letters are 
made concerning Sir John Moore and his army. 

''December 27, 1808. — The St. A /bans perhaps 
may soon be off to help bring home what may 
remain by this time of our poor army, whose state 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

seems dreadfully critical." '* I am sorry to find 
that Sir J. Moore has a mother living, but, 
though a very heroic son, he might not be a very 
necessary one to her happiness. Deacon Morrel 
may be more to Mrs. Morrel. I wish Sir John 
had united something of the Christian with the 
hero in his death. Thank heaven, we have no 
one to care for particularly among the troops, no 
one, in fact, nearer to us than Sir John himself. 
Colonel Maitland is safe and well ; his mother and 
sisters were of course anxious about him, but 
there is no entering much into the solicitudes of 
that family." 

It was in November of 1808 that Mrs. Edward 
Austen, the ' Elizabeth ' of the letters, died. Great 
grief was evidently felt by all her husband's 
family. Jane's letters at the time are full of love 
and sympathy. Cassandra was staying with her 
brother, and Frank got a few days' extra leave in 
order to go there, about a month after the death. 

Jane writes to tell his plans. 

^^ November 21. 

*' Your letter, my dear Cassandra, obliges me to 
write immediately, that you may have the earliest 
notice of Frank's intending, if possible, to go to 
Godmersham exactly at the time now fixed for 
your visit to Goodnestone. He resolved almost 
directly on the receipt of your former letter to try 
for an extension of his leave of absence, that he 


Stars and Stripes 

might be able to go down to you for two days, 
but charged me not to give you any notice of it, 
on account of the uncertainty of success. Now, 
however, I must give it, and now perhaps he may 
be giving it himself; for I am just in the hateful 
predicament of being obliged to write what I know 
will somehow or other be of no use. He meant 
to ask for five days more, and if they were granted 
to go down by Thursday's night mail, and spend 
Friday and Saturday with you ; and he con- 
sidered his chance of success by no means bad. 
I hope it will take place as he planned, and that 
your arrangements with Goodnestone may admit 
of suitable alteration." 

During Francis Austen's commands of the 
Leopard, Canopus, and St. Albans, covering the 
eventful years of the Boulogne blockade, and of 
Trafalgar, and up to 1810, Charles Austen was 
serving on the North American station in 
command of the Indian sloop. The work to 
be done on the coast of the United States was 
both arduous and thankless. It consisted mainly 
in the enforcement of the right of search for 
deserters, and the curtailment of the American 
carrying trade, so far as it was considered 

British war policy had made it necessary to 
forbid trading by neutrals between European 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

countries under the sway of Napoleon, and their 
dependencies in other parts of the world. 
American ingenuity succeeded in evading this 
prohibition by arranging for the discharge and 
reshipment of cargoes at some United States 
port, en route. The ship would load originally at 
a West Indian port with goods for Europe, then 
sail to a harbour in Massachusetts (for example), 
where the cargo was warehoused, and the vessel 
repaired. When ready for sea, the captain got 
the same cargo on board again, and departed for 
the designated market on this side of the Atlantic. 
No wonder that American vessels were so fre- 
quently spoken by the Canopus and the St, Albans^ 
for in 1806 and the following years nearly all the 
carrying trade was done under the Stars and 
Stripes. American shipmasters were able to pay 
very high wages, and desertions from British men- 
of-war were frequent. Our cruisers had to take 
strong measures in face of this growing evil, and 
finally an American frigate was boarded, and 
several of the crew forcibly removed as deserters. 
Such action was possible only on account of the 
great strength of the British naval force, a 
practical blockade of the United States ports 
being enforced along the whole Atlantic seaboard. 
This had been done in consequence of decisions of 
the Admiralty Court against some of the reship- 
ments, which were held by the Judges to be 


Stars and Stripes 

evasions of the actual blockades of hostile ports. 
The state of tension gradually became acute, but 
both Governments were so loth to fight that 
negotiations were on foot for several years before 
the President of the United States declared war 
in 1812. In 1809 3. settlement seemed to have 
been reached, and a fleet of six hundred American 
traders had already got to sea, when it was dis- 
covered that the treaty could not be ratified. It 
was indeed almost impossible for England to alter 
her policy as regards neutral traders, or to abandon 
the right of search for deserters, so long as every 
resource was necessary in the struggle against 

Captain Mahan, writing on the ** Continental 
System," puts the matter in a nutshell when he 
says : *' The neutral carrier, pocketing his pride, 
offered his services to either (combatant) for pay, 
and the other then regarded him as taking part 
in the hostilities." 

In 1808 the Indian, Charles Austen's ship, 
captured La Jeune Estelle, a small privateer, 
but the work on the North- American station was 
unprofitable as regards prize-money. In 18 10 
Charles gained post rank as captain of the 
Swiftsure, flagship to Sir John Warren. The 
great event of these years for him was his marriage 
in 1807 with Fanny Palmer, daughter of the 
Attorney-General of Bermuda. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

In Jane's letters there are constant mentions 
of him. 

''December 27. — I must write to Charles next 
week. You may guess in what extravagant terms 
of praise Earle Harwood speaks of him. He is 
looked up to by everybody in all America." 

''January 10. — Charles's rug will be finished 
to-day, and sent to-morrow to Frank, to be con- 
signed by him to Mr. Turner's care ; and I am 
going to send ' Marmion ' out with it — very gene- 
rous in me, I think." ** Marmion" was then just 
published. She was a great admirer of Scott, and 
doubtless felt the parting from his latest work, 
even when making a present of it to Charles. 
In another of her letters she writes : 

** Walter Scott has no business to write novels, 
especially good ones. It is not fair. He has 
fame and profits enough as a poet, and ought not 
to be taking the bread out of other people's 
mouths. I do not mean to like * Waverley ' if I 
can help it, but I fear I must." 

We hear one more small piece of news con- 
cerning Charles in a letter of Jane's dated January 
24, 1809: " I had the happiness yesterday of a 
letter from Charles, but I shall say as little about 
it as possible, because I know that excruciating 
Henry will have a letter likewise, to make all my 
intelligence valueless. It was written at Bermuda 
on the 7th and loth of December. All were well. 


Stars and Stripes 

He had taken a small prize in his late cruise — a 
French schooner laden with sugar ; but bad 
weather parted them, and she had not yet been 
heard of. His cruise ended December ist. 
My September letter was the latest he had re- 

We have the sequel to this incident in a letter 
from Charles to Cassandra, dated from Bermuda 
on December 24, in which he says : 

" I wrote to Jane about a fortnight ago acquaint- 
ing her with my arrival at this place and of my 
having captured a little Frenchman, which, I am 
truly sorry to add, has never reached this port, and, 
unless she has run to the West Indies, I have lost 
her — and, what is a real misfortune, the lives of 
twelve of my people, two of them mids. I confess 
I have but little hopes of ever hearing of her again. 
The weather has been so very severe since we 
captured her. I wish you a merry and happy 
Xmas, in which Fan joins me, as well as in 
bespeaking the love of her dear Grandmother 
and Aunts for our little Cassandra. The October 
and November mails have not yet reached us, so 
that I know nothing of you of late. I hope you 
have been more fortunate in hearing of me. I 
expect to sail on Tuesday with a small convoy 
for the island of St. Domingo, and, after seeing 
them in safety, open sealed orders, which I con- 
clude will direct me to cruise as long as my 

309 o 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

provisions, &c., will allow, which is generally a 
couple of months. My companion, the Vesta, is 
to be with me again, which I like very much. I 
don't know of any opportunity of sending this, 
but shall leave it to take its chance. Tom 
Fowler is very well, and is growing quite manly. 
I am interrupted, so conclude this by assuring 
you how truly I am 

** Your affectionate friend 

and attached brother, 

" Charles J no. Austen." 

Charles stayed only five months in the Swift- 
sure. In September 1810 he took command of 
the Cleopatra, and brought her home in the fol- 
lowing April, after an absence of six and a half 

Jane's letters show how gladly the news of 
*' our own particular little brother's " home-coming 
was welcomed. In an account of an evening 
party given at the Henry Austens', she tells how 
she heard that Charles was soon to return. *' At 
half-past seven arrived the musicians in two 
hackney coaches, and by eight the lordly com- 
pany began to appear. Among the earliest were 
George and Mary Cooke, and I spent the greatest 
part of the evening very pleasantly with them. 
The drawing-room being soon hotter than we 
liked, we placed ourselves in the connecting pas- 



Stars and Stripes 

sage, which was comparatively cool, and gave us all 
the advantage of the music at a pleasant distance, 
as well as that of the first view of every new 
comer. I was quite surrounded by acquaintances, 
especially gentlemen ; and what with Mr. Hamp- 
son, Mr. Seymour, Mr. W. Knatchbull, Mr. 
Guillemarde, Mr. Cure, a Captain Simpson, 
brother to the Captain Simpson, besides Mr. 
Walter, and Mr. Egerton, in addition to the 
Cookes, and Miss Beckford, and Miss MIddleton, 
I had quite as much upon my hands as I could 
do. This said Captain Simpson told us, on the 
authority of some other captain just arrived from 
Halifax, that Charles was bringing the Cleopatra 
home, and that she was by this time probably in 
the Channel ; but as Captain S. was certainly in 
liquor we must not depend on it. It must give 
one a sort of expectation, however, and will pre- 
vent my writing to him any more. I would rather 
he should not reach England till I am at home, 
and the Steventon party gone." 

A curious time and place to receive such news, 
and a still more curious informant according to 
the ideas of these days, when men do not appear 
at an evening party ** in liquor." 

In November 1811 Charles was appointed to 
the NamuVy as Flag Captain to his old friend. Sir 
Thomas Williams, who was now Commander-in- 
Chief at the Nore. 




In April 1809 the SL Albans was again at sea, 
this time on a voyage to China convoying East 

The first place which Captain Austen describes 
on this voyage is Port Cornwallis, Prince of Wales 
Island, or Penang. He writes : ** This harbour is 
formed by Prince of Wales Island (better known 
by the native name of Pulo Penang, signifying in 
the Malay language * Betel-nut Island') and the 
opposite coast of the Malay Peninsula, from 
which at the nearest part it is distant about two 
miles. The approach to it is from the northward, 
and is neither difficult nor dangerous." After 
further remarks on the best way of sailing in and 
anchoring, the notes deal with the more generally 
interesting facts about the island. It must be 
remembered that at this time the Malays were 
giving constant trouble to British ships, by small 
but very ferocious attacks. ''Wood is in the 
greatest abundance, the whole coast of the Malay 


Chinese Mandarins 

Peninsula in the vicinity of this harbour being a 
forest, in which any quantity may be had for the 
trouble of cutting. Ships of war do not, however, 
usually procure it in that way, from the danger of 
introducing sickness amongst their crews by the 
exposure to the sun, which would be unavoidable. 
It may be purchased on the island at a reasonable 
price. Water is plentiful, and it has been generally 
considered of an excellent quality, and to keep 
well at sea. 

''Buffalo beef may be procured here in any quan- 
tity. The meat is generally very coarse, lean, and 
ill-flavoured. Sheep are rarely to be procured, 
and never but at a very high price. It should 
seem to be an animal which the Malays have not 
got, as all those on the island are imported from 
Bengal, at a great expense, by individuals for their 
consumption. Fish is neither plentiful nor par- 
ticularly good in kind ; fruit and vegetables are 
abundant and excellent. They are of those species 
usually met with in tropical climates, with some 
peculiar to the eastern parts of India. 

'The fortifications are by no means considerable, 
consisting in a square fort, situated on the ex- 
tremity of the point which separates the outer 
from the inner harbour. It is probably quite suffi- 
cient to intimidate the Malays, or repel any attack 
they could make were they so disposed, but I 
should think it would be far from difficult for two 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

or three ships of war to destroy it in a short time. 
The whole of the works are in a very dilapidated 
state. It is obviously incapable of affording any 
protection to the greater part of the town, as an 
enemy might land to the northward and destroy 
most of the buildings, or lay the inhabitants under 
contribution, without being exposed to a single 
gun from the fort. To the shipping in the harbour, 
indeed, it could give some protection, and that pro- 
bably was the principal consideration in selecting 
the spot which it occupies. There was formerly 
a work called (from its shape, I presume) the 
Frying-pan Battery, but it is now in a state of ruin, 
a great part of it having fallen in. The sea 
appears to be gradually washing away the soil 
from under its foundations. 

** The military force usually kept on the island 
consists in a battalion of Sepoys about 600 strong, 
and a company of European artillery. I did not 
understand that there was any militia or means of 
increasing the effective force in case of an attack 
or other emergency. The public wharf is built 
of wood, is of considerable breadth, and, being 
roofed over for its whole length, seems well adapted 
for sheltering goods of all sorts, in landing or 
shipping off, from the effects of the weather, and 
especially from the sun, which is generally very 
powerful there. The sides being open admit a 
free draught and circulation of air, so that it is 


Chinese Mandarins 

perhaps, during the middle of the day, the coolest 
place in the town, and as such is resorted to by 
the Europeans^ who make it a kind of Mall or 

''Shortly after this island was settled by the 
English, the trade became considerable, and bid 
fair to increase, as it was found a very convenient 
situation for ships to touch at on their voyage 
between India and China, or any of the islands in 
the Eastern seas, having many local advantages 
over Malacca, which had previously been used for 
that purpose. 

*' It was also considered favourable for the culti- 
vation of pepper, large plantations of which were 
made and throve exceedingly. In consequence 
of the war, however, which has so long desolated 
Europe, and in its progress gradually shut nearly 
every port on that continent against British ships 
and trade, the market for pepper grown here has 
been much straitened, and is now chiefly con- 
fined to China. The pepper plantations having 
in consequence thereof been found very un- 
profitable concerns, and in many instances I 
believe heavy losses, are now much reduced in 
number and extent ; nor, so far as I could learn, 
has any other species of cultivation been intro- 
duced to occupy the soil and give employment to 
the labour and capital which have been so 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

" Many spots, which had been cleared and pro- 
duced crops, are now neglected, and, as the pro- 
gress of vegetation here is exceedingly rapid and 
luxuriant, are verging fast to their original wild, 
forest-like state. 

** Within the last two or three years attempts 
have been made by a few gentlemen to introduce 
the culture of the nutmeg, clove and cinnamon ; 
several plants have been procured which are in a 
thriving state, and it is generally thought that the 
soil and situation will suit them ; but no return can 
possibly be obtained for the first five or six years, 
which must effectually prevent any but persons of 
large capitals embarking in such a concern. 

"Many parts of the island would do very well 
for the growth of rice, but it has been the policy of 
the Government to discourage that species of 
husbandry as much as possible, from an idea that 
it would render the settlement unhealthy ; and as 
that grain can always be procured in any quantity, 
and at a very cheap rate, from the Malay coast, 
the measure of obstructing its cultivation on the 
island seems to have been a prudent one. 

** Timber fit for naval purposes may be procured 
at several places in the neighbourhood, particu- 
larly Pegu and Rangoon on the coast of Aracan, 
and Siacca on the north-east coast of Sumatra. 
There are several species of it, most, if not all, of 
which are considered very durable, particularly 


Chinese Mandarins 

the teak. Poon and other spars fit for masts and 
yards may also be had from many parts of the 
Malay coast at very moderate prices, some of 
which are of a sufficient size to make a main- 
mast for a seventy-four-gun ship of a single tree. 
The wood is considerably heavier than fir, but 
being also much stronger, masts and yards made 
of it will admit of being reduced in diameter, and 
nearly, if not quite, equal to the difference in 
weight. Ships of considerable burden have at 
different times been built here ; the last and 
largest was a thirty-six-gun frigate built at the 
expense of the East India Company, and launched 
in August 1809. 

'* It was in contemplation a few years back to 
construct docks here, and the little island of 
Jerajah was pointed out as a proper situation. 

'* Gates for the docks were sent out from 
England, and a steam-engine for working pumps, 
as the fall of water would not be sufficient to empty 
the docks ; but nothing has yet been done, and 
the idea seems to have been given up. 

*' Having the means of docking ships here would 
on many occasions be productive of very great 
convenience as well to the public service as to 
private individuals. For want thereof any ship 
requiring to be docked must now go to Bengal, 
or, if a large one, to Bombay, at a great loss of 
time and increased expense, especially if trading 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

to China or into the Eastern Seas, in which case 
it certainly would occasion the loss of the season 

** The population of the island is said to be 
about 50,000 souls, but I should think it consider- 
ably over-rated at that statement. It is composed 
of various nations, Malays, Chinese, Cochin- 
Chinese, Siamese, Birmans, Bengalees, Malabars, 
Chulians, and most of the nations and castes of 
India, with a few Europeans, which last fill 
situations under the Government, or are engaged 
in mercantile concerns. The languages are as 
various as the nations, few of them speaking any 
other than that of their own country. It is a 
singular fact that more than thirty, totally dis- 
tinct from each other, are spoken in the Bazar. 
The Government, appointed by the East India 
Directors, is entirely independent of the Presi- 
dencies. The present Governor is a military 
man, having the local rank on the islands of 
Colonel in the Company's army, and is Com- 
mander-in-Chief of all the troops there. 

** As the civil code is in many instances suited 
to the peculiar customs and usages of the different 
nations composing the population, who are in 
general fond of litigation, the office of Chief 
Judge is a very arduous and fatiguing one." 

The SL Albans was sent on to China with the 
convoy of East Indiamen, and anchored in the 


Chinese Mandarins 

river of Canton. Various matters kept them 
here for more than five months, from September 
1 8, 1809, till March 2, 18 10. 

The river of Canton had for many years been 
infested with pirates, called Ladrones, who 
robbed and murdered, devastated the country, 
attacked villages, and were even a danger to the 
town of Canton itself. In order to hold them in 
some measure in check, the Chinese Government 
had engaged an English vessel called the Mercury 
to act against them ; and immediately on the 
arrival of the St. Albans, Francis Austen was 
asked if he would consider it consistent with his 
duty to give any further help. He replied that, 
considering the friendly relations between Britain 
and China, he should feel himself quite at liberty 
to give what help he could. He stipulated how- 
ever that he should receive a written application 
from the Viceroy of Canton, and also that the 
restrictions which the Chinese Government had 
imposed on the British ships of war to prohibit 
them from passing the Bocca Tigris should be 
removed, and every part of the river made free to 
them. He pointed out that the Chinese Mandarin 
(or war) boats would be suitable for the purpose 
of attacking the Ladrones if overhauled, fitted 
with European artillery and manned by Euro- 
peans, and also that the British ships were of no 
manner of use in the river, as they were all much 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

too large, and moreover all but the S^. Albans 
would soon be on their passage home. He also 
expressed a readiness to wait on the Viceroy in 
order to talk the matter over. 

The appointment was made to meet at the 
Hoppo's house at two o'clock on November 2 ; 
and here Captain Austen presented himself, but 
** after waiting nearly half an hour in a close 
dirty kind of lobby, exposed to the stare of every 
blackguard who could squeeze himself into the 
passage leading to it, and having our noses 
assailed by a combination of villanous smells, I 
was informed that the Viceroy had gone away, 
but that the Hoppo would come and speak to me." 
This Captain Austen absolutely declined, and 
retired, leaving word that if the Viceroy wished 
hereafter to see him, ** he would at any time have 
it in his power to do so by coming to the British 
factory." He adds : *' It is not easy to account 
for the Viceroy's behaviour, but I am inclined to 
set it down to the score of imbecility, and a 
struggle between pride and the conviction of his 
own inability to arrest the progress of the pirates, 
in which the former has obtained the victory." 
His dealings with the Viceroy were, however, by 
no means at an end. About a month afterwards 
it was necessary to make a serious complaint to 
the Chinese Government. Some officers of the 
St, Albans had gone ashore for shooting. One 


Chinese Mandarins 

of them was attacked by a buffalo, and was only 
rescued from being gored to death by his friends, 
who shot the animal. Numerous Chinamen 
immediately gathered round full of indignation at 
the slaughter of the brute, and, in spite of the 
protestations of the Englishmen, and their asser- 
tions that they would make full restitution, they 
were attacked in a most violent manner, and only 
got away by buying their liberty. Evidently the 
"very friendly feelings" supposed to be existing 
between the two governments were not so 
cordially shared by individuals. 

After these two minor troubles, a very difficult 
matter came before Francis Austen, and his skill 
and courtesy in dealing with it earned him the 
unqualified thanks of the East India Company, 
besides some more substantial recognition. Just 
when the SL Albans and her convoy were pre- 
pared to put to sea again, they were informed 
that the ** Chops " would not be granted to them, 
or the ships allowed to depart. The reason 
given was that a Chinaman had been killed in the 
town, and, it was stated, by an Englishman. 
This was a serious matter to deal with, as the 
evidence was most difficult to collect — the Chinese 
were thorough-paced liars — and every day of 
delay now made it more and more likely that the 
convoy would encounter bad weather on the way 
home. The Viceroy insisted that the English 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

officers should themselves discover the offender, 
while Captain Austen pointed out that they had 
no means of knowing anything about the matter, 
even if the culprit were one of their own men, and 
that the police of Canton were more likely to be 
successful in discovering the offender. In a 
letter to Admiral Drury, Commander-in-Chief in 
India, Francis Austen feelingly remarks : ** I 
need not detail to you, Sir, who are so well aware 
of them, the difficulties that oppose and retard 
the discussion of any question with the Chinese 
from various causes, but especially from the want 
of efficient means of getting our sentiments 
properly and faithfully rendered into Chinese, 
nor the pertinacity with which they adhere to any 
opinion they have once assumed, or assertion 
once made, in defiance of justice, equity and 
common sense. You know them all. But when 
I reflect upon these obstacles, and the general 
character of the people, I cannot help feeling in 
how very arduous a situation I am placed, and 
what important consequences may result from my 
conduct." The evidence of the two witnesses 
was certainly not of a sort to make matters easy 
for the Committee appointed to examine the 
question. '* One states there was neither noise 
nor fighting, the other that there was noise and 
he saw fighting for ten minutes, although not 
being present at the commencement of it he 


Chinese Mandarins 

knew not how much longer it might have been 
going on. Again one of them stated that he 
knew nothing of the business and was not with 
the deceased when he was stabbed, and immedi- 
ately afterwards stated that he saw him stabbed, 
and was only four cubits from him at the time. 
One of them states it to be quite dark, and the 
other that it was moonlight." 

In spite of all this, when the insufficiency of the 
evidence was pointed out to the Mandarins, they, 
** like true Chinese Mandarins (which designation, 
perhaps, comprises every bad quality which has 
disgraced human nature), insisted that, as we must 
now be clearly convinced that the offender was 
an Englishman, we could no longer have any 
pretence for withholding him from justice, and 
therefore would, of course, give him up to be tried 
according to the laws of China. A Mandarin is 
not a reasoning animal, nor ought to be treated 
as a rational one." 

The matter was finally settled by allowing the 
British ships to depart on condition that there was 
an inquiry held during the voyage home, the 
result of which was to be communicated from 
England to China on the arrival of the SL Albans 
and convoy. This seems a truly Chinese mode 
of arrangement, but not wholly unsatisfactory, as 
it was discovered that three of the men on the 
Cumberland (one of the Indiamen) had been 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

engaged in the riot, and carrying arms at the time, 
so that there was some presumptive evidence for 
their being the actual perpetrators of the deed. 
The SL Albans was back in England by July, 
with the convoy, calling at St. Helena on the 

His long service as midshipman must have 
made the navigation in the China Seas tolerably 
familiar to Captain Austen. The points men- 
tioned in this part of the log have a peculiar 
interest at the moment of writing this chapter 
(May 1905), when we have all been watching 
the great drama of the Russian fleet's approach to 
Japanese waters, followed by their destruction, 
more complete than that of the vanquished at 
Trafalgar. Cape Varella, Natuna and Saputa 
Islands, and the Paracels, are all amongst the 
log records. Passing the latter group seems 
to have been always an anxious time, as shoals 
are frequent northward of Singapore, which 
town, by the way, had no apparent existence 
in 1809. 

There is a curious correspondence, partly by 
signal, on the passage down the China Seas : 

''March 16, 18 10. — At i p.m. telegraph signal 
to Perseverance (one of the tea-ships of the 
convoy) : * Do you know anything of the shoal 
called the Dogger Bank, and which side would 
you recommend passing it ? ' 


Chinese Mandarins 

''Perseverance answers, 'The shoal is doubt- 
ful. I should wish to pass to the eastward 

of it; 

"At 3 o'clock the Glutton (another of the tea- 
laden Indiamen) made signal to speak with us. 
Shortened sail. 

" At 4, Captain Halliburton informed me 
that the Dogger Bank is by no means doubt- 
ful, having himself been in a ship which was 
aground on it. They found it exceedingly 

The connection of the name with the ** unto- 
ward incident " of October 1 904 and the Russian 
fleet is a coincidence. 

One of the outline sketches which occur in the 
logs is that of Krakatoa Island, in the Straits of 
Sunda. This mountain was partially destroyed 
in 1882 by the immense eruption of volcanic 
matter, which coloured the sunsets all over the 
world many months afterwards. 

Francis Austen was superseded in the St, 
Albans in September 18 10 by his own wish. He 
naturally wanted a short time without employment 
to spend with his wife, who had not had much of 
his society since their marriage. 

From December in the same year till May 
1 8 1 1 he was stationed off the coast of France as 
Flag- Captain to Lord Gambier in the Caledonia, 
After this there was another holiday of about 

Tanc Austen's Sailor Brothers 

two months, spent with his wife and children 
in paying visits. Jane's letters speak of their 
being at Steventon, and of a projected visit to 

On July i8, 1811, he took command of the 
Elephant^ and became again concerned in the 
Napoleonic wars. 


Cassandra's sketch of jane " 


The time of Captain Austen's service in the 
Elephant is divided into three periods. For over 
a year she was employed with Admiral Young's 
fleet in the North Sea, which was stationed there 
to watch Vice-Admiral Missiessy, then at anchor 
at the mouth of the Scheldt, ready to slip 
out if occasion offered. The ships under his 
command had been newly built in Napoleon s 
great dockyard of Flushing, which was rendered 
ineffective by the constant British blockade. 
In the autumn of 1812 the Elephant was cruising 
off the Azores with the Phcebe and Hermes, 
The disputes concerning trade had by this 
time resulted in war with the United States. 
On this cruise we have the record in the log 
of the capture of an American privateer, the 

** December 27. — At two, saw a strange sail 
bearing W. by N. Made the signal to the Hermes 
with a gun. Made all sail in chace. At sunset, 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

chace distant two miles. The chace had all the 
appearance of an armed vessel. 

**28. — Fired several shots at the chace. At 
five minutes to two perceived her hoist two lights 
and bring to. At two shortened sail, hove to, 
boarded, and took possession of the chace, which 
proved to be the American schooner privateer 
Swordfish, out sixteen days from Boston, armed 
with twelve six-pounders and eighty-two men. 
During the chace ten of her guns and several 
spars were thrown overboard." 

After her return to England with the prize 
and another turn at the Flushing blockade, the 
Elephant was ordered to the Baltic. They were 
engaged in convoying vast numbers of small 
vessels through the Sound and the Belt past the 
coasts of Denmark, which was still under the 
power of France, and in keeping at a distance 
such armed craft of the enemy as were dangerous. 
We find, in these short cruises to and fro, as 
many as two hundred and fifty or three hundred 
sail in company, under the charge of three or 
four men-of-war. An entry in the log on 
October lo will show the nature of the work : 
** A boat from the Zealous came with letters for 
the Admiral, and to say that the galliott chaced 
yesterday was one which had drifted out of the 
convoy the preceding night, and was captured 
in the morning by a row-boat privateer off 


A Letter from Jane 

Nascoi, which, on the Zealous approach, aban- 
doned her and escaped into Femerin. It appear- 
ing on examining the master of the galHott that 
he never had belonged to the convoy, but had 
merely joined them off Anholt and continued 
with them for security sake, without applying for 
instructions, it was decided to consider the vessel 
as a recapture, and to take her on to Carlskrona 
as such. She is called the Neptunus, Daniel 
Si very, master, belonging to Gottenberg, and 
bound from that place to Stralsund with a cargo 
of rice, sugar, coffee, and indigo/' 

The Island of Anholt, captured in 1809, was a 
possession of great importance to the English 
when engaged in this work, on account of its 
lighthouse, which could signal to the ships of the 
convoy and keep them all in their places. Of 
this island Captain Austen had a few words to 
say which show that its importance lay therein 
alone. After a lengthy and minute description 
of the lighthouse and all which appertained to it, 
he continues : '* The garrison at present consists 
of about three men of a veteran battalion, and 
a few marine artillery, which form by many 
degrees the most considerable portion of the 
population, for, exclusive of the military and their 
appendages of wives and children, there are but 
sixteen families on the island, who all reside at 
the only village on it, near the high ground to 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

the westward, and whose principal occupation is 
fishing, in which they are generally very successful 
during the summer. 

** Antecedent to the war between England and 
Denmark and the consequent occupation of the 
island by the English, the Anholters paid a small 
rent to the proprietor of the soil, who is a Danish 
nobleman residing at Copenhagen ; but at pre- 
sent they are considered and fed as prisoners of 
war by the English. They are an exceedingly 
poor people, and seem to enjoy but a small 
proportion of worldly comfort." 

The Island of Rugen, which was another 
anchoring station for the Elephant, was the only 
portion of the conquests of Gustavus Adolphus 
which still remained under the Swedish flag. 
The whole tract of country which he conquered 
was called Swedish Pomerania, but the mainland 
districts had lately been occupied by part of 
Napoleon's army under Marshal Brune. 

Of Rugen, Captain Austen writes : ** The 
British ships of war were not supplied with fresh 
beef and vegetables whilst the Elephant was there, 
and I understood because (though they might 
have been procured) the price was too great, 
which may probably be in a great degree owing 
to the neighbouring part of Pomerania having 
been last year occupied by the French troops, 
and having suffered much from the effects of war, 


A Letter from Jane 

as well as having still large armies in its vicinity, 
which must of course very materially affect the 
state of the markets for provisions of all kinds." 

While the Elephant was employed in this way 
in convoying small vessels backwards and for- 
wards, great events were going on all round. 
The southern shores of the Baltic were Included 
this year in the great arena of the battles which 
preceded the downfall of Napoleon. 

Napoleon's day was now nearly over. The 
retreat, in 1812, from Moscow had shaken his 
reputation, and Prussia no longer attempted to 
keep up the disguise of friendly relations with 
France. The revolt of the Prussian regiments 
of Napoleon's army gave the signal for a national 
organisation, and the whole country turned openly 
against France. The garrisons left in the forti- 
fied towns, conquered seven years earlier, were 
the only remnants of French dominion. Marshal 
Bernadotte, who had fought for his Emperor at 
Grezlaw and Wagram, had lately been selected 
to be Crown Prince of Sweden. His interests 
were now centred In Sweden, and his great desire 
was to conquer Norway. That kingdom was 
ceded in 18 14, in exchange for Rugen and the 
Pomeranian territories, and has been, almost 
from that date, a source of increasing difficulty 
to the Crown of Sweden. Bernadotte had asked 
help towards his project from Napoleon, at the 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

same time promising to give him reinforcements 
for the Russian invasion. This offer was refused, 
and Bernadotte remained neutral until he saw 
that matters were going against his former sove- 
reign. Now, in 1813, he declared himself an 
ally of the Russians and Austrians, and brought 
across the Baltic into Swedish Pomerania a con- 
tingent of 12,000 men, of whom a considerable 
number were convoyed by English men-of- 

In the log for May 28, 181 3, we read : ** Sailed 
the Princess Caroline and several of the brigs, 
with a large fleet of transports, for the Sound. 
The transports have 4900 Swedish troops on 
board, to be landed in Swedish Pomerania." 
These soldiers assisted in the defeat of Marshal 
Oudinot, and were among the force which 
drove back Napoleon from Leipzig in the next 
October, just at the same time that Wellington 
had completed the liberation of Spain and 
was leading his army through the passes of the 

It is scarcely remarkable that the signal 
asking for news should be so frequently made 
from the Elephant when such events were in 

A letter from Jane to her brother, written 
while all this was going on, must have been 
truly refreshing, with its talk of hayfields, and 


A Letter from Jane 

abundance of cheerful gossip about nothing in 
particular : 

" Chawton, July 3, 1813. 

" My dearest Frank, — Behold me going to 
write you as handsome a letter as I can ! Wish 
me good luck. We have had the pleasure of 
hearing from you lately through Mary, who sent 
us some of the particulars of yours of June 18 
(I think), written off Rugen, and we enter into 
the delight of your having so good a pilot. Why 
are you like Queen Elizabeth ? Because you 
know how to chuse wise ministers. Does not 
this prove you as great a Captain as she was a 
Queen ? This may serve as a riddle for you to 
put forth among your officers, by way of increas- 
ing your proper consequence. It must be a real 
enjoyment to you, since' you are obliged to leave 
England, to be where you are, seeing something 
of a new country and one which has been so dis- 
tinguished as Sweden. You must have great 
pleasure in it. I hope you may have gone to 
Carlscroon. Your profession has its douceui^s to 
recompense for some of its privations ; to an en- 
quiring and observing mind like yours such 
douceurs must be considerable. Gustavus Vasa, 
and Charles XII., andCristina and Linneus. Do 
their ghosts rise up before you ? I have a great 
respect for former Sweden, so zealous as it was 
for Protestantism. And I have always fancied 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

it more like England than other countries ; and, 
according to the map, many of the names have a 
strong resemblance to the English. July begins 
unpleasantly with us, cold and showery, but it is 
often a baddish month. We had some fine dry 
weather preceding it, which was very acceptable 
to the Holders of Hay, and the Masters of 
Meadows. In general it must have been a good 
hay-making season. Edward has got in all his 
in excellent order ; I speak only of Chawton, but 
here he has better luck than Mr. Middleton ever 
had in the five years that he was tenant. Good en- 
couragement for him to come again, and I really 
hope he will do so another year. The pleasure 
to us of having them here is so great that if we 
were not the best creatures in the world we should 
not deserve it. We go on in the most comfortable 
way, very frequently dining together, and always 
meeting in some part of every day. Edward is 
very well, and enjoys himself as thoroughly as 
any Hampshire-born Austen can desire. Chawton 
is not thrown away upon him. He talks of 
making a new garden ; the present is a bad one 
and ill-situated, near Mr. Papillon's. He means 
to have the new at the top of the lawn behind his 
own house. We like to have him proving and 
strengthening his attachment to the place by 
making it better. He will soon have all his 
children about him. Edward, George and Charles 


A Letter trom Jane 

are collected already, and another week brings 
Henry and William. It is the custom at Win- 
chester for Georges to come away a fortnight 
before the holidays, when they are not to return 
any more ; for fear they should overstudy them- 
selves just at last, I suppose. Really it is a piece of 
dishonourable accommodation to the Master. We 
are in hopes of another visit from our true lawful 
Henry very soon ; he is to be our guest this time. 
He is quite well, I am happy to say, and does 
not leave it to my pen, I am sure, to communicate 
to you the joyful news of his being Deputy Re- 
ceiver no longer. It is a promotion which he 
thoroughly enjoys, as well he may ; the work of 
his own mind. He sends you all his own plans 
of course. The scheme for Scotland we think an 
excellent one both for himself and his nephew. 
Upon the whole his spirits are very much re- 
covered. If I may so express myself his mind is 
not a mind for affliction ; he is too busy, too active, 
too sanguine. Sincerely as he was attached to 
poor Eliza moreover, and excellently as he be- 
haved to her, he was always so used to be away 
from her at times, that her loss is not felt as that 
of many a beloved wife might be, especially when 
all the circumstances of her long and dreadful 
illness are taken into the account. He very long 
knew that she must die, and it was indeed a re- 
lease at last. Our mourning for her is not over, 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

or we should be putting it on again for Mr. Thomas 
Leigh, who has just closed a good life at the age 
of seventy-nine, and must have died the possessor 
of one of the finest estates in England, and of 
more worthless nephews and nieces than any 
other private man in the United Kingdom. We 
are very anxious to know who will have the living 
of Adlestrop, and where his excellent sister will 
find a home for the remainder of her days. As 
yet she bears his loss with fortitude, but she has 
always seemed so wrapped up in him that I fear 
she must feel it dreadfully when the fever of 
business is over. There is another female suf- 
ferer on the occasion to be pitied. Poor Mrs. L. 
P. (Leigh Perrot) who would now have been 
mistress of Stoneleigh had there been none of the 
vile compromise, which in good truth has never 
been allowed to be of much use to them. It will 
be a hard trial. Charles' little girls were with us 
about a month, and had so endeared themselves 
that we were quite sorry to have them go. They 
are now all at South End together. Why do I 
mention that ? As if Charles did not write him- 
self. I hate to be spending my time so needlessly, 
encroaching too upon the rights of others. I 
wonder whether you happened to see Mr. Black- 
all's marriage in the papers last January. We 
did. He was married at Clifton to a Miss Lewis, 
whose father had been late of Antigua. I should 


A Letter from Jane 

very much like to know what sort of a woman 
she is. He was a piece of perfection — noisy 
perfection — himself, which I always recollect with 
regard. We had noticed a few months before 
his succeeding to a College living, the very living 
which we recollected his talking of, and wishing 
for; an exceeding good one. Great Cadbury in 
Somersetshire. I would wish Miss Lewis to be 
of a silent turn and rather ignorant, but naturally 
intelligent and wishing to learn, fond of cold veal 
pies, green tea in the afternoon, and a green 
window blind at night. 

** You will be glad to hear that every copy of S. 
and S. is sold, and that it has brought me ;if 140, be- 
sides the copyright, if that should ever be of any 
value. I have now, therefore, written myself into 
jC^SOy which only makes me long for more. I have 
something in hand which I hope the credit of 
P. and P. will sell well, though not half so enter- 
taining, and by the bye shall you object to my 
mentioning the Elephant in it, and two or three 
other old ships ? I have done it, but it shall not 
stay to make you angry. They are only just 

''July 6. — I have kept open my letter on the 
chance of what Tuesday's post might furnish in 
addition, and it furnishes the likelihood of our 
keeping our neighbours at the Great House 
some weeks longer than we expected. Mr. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

Scudamore, to whom my brother referred, is very 
decided as to Godmersham not being fit to be 
inhabited at present. He talks even of two 
months being necessary to sweeten it, but if we 
have warm weather I daresay less will do. My 
brother will probably go down and sniff at it 
himself, and receive his rents. The rent-day has 
been postponed already. 

" We shall be gainers by their stay, but the 
young people in general are disappointed, and 
therefore could wish it otherwise. Our cousins. 
Colonel Thomas Austen and Margaretta, are 
going as aide-de-camps to Ireland ; and Lord 
Whitworth goes in their train as Lord- Lieutenant ; 
good appointments for each. I hope you con- 
tinue well and brush your hair, but not all off. 
** Yours very affectionately, 

*^J. A." 

The '* something in hand " in this letter was 
'* Mansfield Park." The mentions of ships occur 
in one of the scenes at Portsmouth, when the 
whole of the Price family are full of the Thrush 
going out of harbour, and have no eyes or ears 
for Fanny, who has just come home after an 
absence of seven or eight years. Th2 scene is 
worth quoting almost in extenso : 

'* Fanny was all agitation and flutter — all hope 
and apprehension. The moment they stopped, 


A Letter trom Jane 

a trollopy-Iooking maid-servant, seemingly in 
waiting for them at the door, stepped forward, 
and, more intent on telling the news than giving 
them any help, immediately began with — * The 
Thrush is gone out of harbour, please, sir, and one 
of the officers has been to ' She was inter- 
rupted by a fine tall boy of eleven years old, who, 
rushing out of the house, pushed the maid aside, 
and while William was opening the chaise-door 
himself, called out, * You are just in time. We 
have been looking for you this half-hour. The 
Thrush went out of harbour this morning. I saw 
her. It was a beautiful sight. And they think 
she will have her orders in a day or two. And 
Mr. Campbell was here at four o'clock to ask for 
you ; he has got one of the Thrush's boats, and 
is going off to her at six, and hoped you would 
be here in time to go with him.' 

** A stare or two at Fanny, as William helped 
her out of the carriage, was all the voluntary 
notice which this brother bestowed ; but he made 
no objection to her kissing him, though still en- 
gaged in detailing farther particulars of the 
Thrush's going out of harbour, in which he had a 
strong right of interest, being to commence his 
career of seamanship in her at this very time. 

** Another moment, and Fanny was in the 
passage and in her mother's arms. She was then 
taken into a small parlour. Her mother was gone 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

again to the street-door to welcome William. * Oh, 
my dear William, how glad I am to see you ! But 
have you heard about the Thrush ? She is gone 
out of harbour already, three days before we had 
any thought of it ; and I do not know what I am 
to do about Sam's things ; they will never be 
ready in time ; for she may have her orders to- 
morrow perhaps. It takes me quite unawares. 
And now you must be off to Spithead, too. 
Campbell has been here quite in a worry about 
you ; and now what shall we do ? I thought to 
have had such a comfortable evening with you, 
and now everything comes upon me at once.' 

'* Her son answered cheerfully, telling her that 
everything was always for the best, and making 
light of his own inconvenience in being obliged 
to hurry away so soon. 

'' * To be sure, I had much rather she had stayed 
in harbour, that I might have sat a few hours with 
you in comfort, but as there is a boat ashore I 
had better go off at once, and there is no help for 
it. Whereabouts does the Thrush lie at Spit- 
head? Near the Canopus? But, no matter — 
here is Fanny in the parlour, and why should we 
stay in the passage ? Come, mother, you have 
hardly looked at your own dear Fanny yet.' 

** Lastly, in walked Mr. Price himself, his own 
loud voice preceding him, as, with something of 
an oath kind, he kicked away his son's portman- 


A Letter from Jane 

teau and his daughter's bandbox in the passage 
and called out for a candle ; no candle was 
brought, however, and he walked into the room. 

*' Fanny, with doubting feelings, had risen to 
meet him, but sank down on finding herself 
undistinguished in the dusk, and unthought of. 
With a friendly shake of his son's hand, and an 
eager voice, he instantly began — *Ha! welcome 
back, my boy. Glad to see you. Have you heard 
the news? The Thrush went out of harbour 
this morning. Sharp is the word, you see. By 

G , you are just in time. The doctor has 

been inquiring for you ; he has got one of the 
boats, and is to be off for Spithead by six, so you 
had better go with him. I have been to Turner's 
about your mess ; it is all in a way to be done. 
I should not wonder if you had your orders to- 
morrow ; but you cannot sail in this wind, if you 
are to cruise to the westward with the Elephant, 

By G , I wish you may. But old Scholey 

was saying, just now, that he thought you would 
be sent first by Texel. Well, well, we are ready, 

whatever happens. But, by G , you lost a 

fine sight by not being here in the morning to see 
the Thrush go out of harbour. I would not have 
been out of the way for a thousand pounds. Old 
Scholey ran in at breakfast-time, to say she had 
slipped her moorings and was coming out. I 
lumped up, and made but two steps to the plat- 

241 Q 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

form. If ever there was a perfect beauty afloat, 
she is one ; and there she lies at Spithead, and 
anybody in England would take her for an eight- 
and-twenty. I was upon the platforms two hours 
this afternoon looking at her. She lies close to 
the Endymion, between her and the Cleopatra 
just to the eastward of the sheer hulk.' * Ha ! ' 
cried William, ' that's just where I should have 
put her myself. It's the best berth at Spithead. 
But here is my sister, sir ; here is Fanny,' turning 
and leading her forward ; * it is so dark you did 
not see her.' With an acknowledgment that he 
had quite forgot her, Mr. Price now received his 
daughter, and having given her a cordial hug, 
and observed that she was grown into a woman, 
and he supposed would be wanting a husband 
soon, seemed very much inclined to forget her 

The statement in the beginning of '' Mansfield 
Park " that '' Miss Frances (Mrs. Price) married, 
in the common phrase, to 'disoblige her family,' 
and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without 
education, fortune or connections, did it very 
thoroughly," is not difficult to believe. 




Unfortunately we have not got Frank's reply to 
his sister's letter, but we have her next letter to 
him dated about two months later, when she was 
staying with Edward. 

*'GoDMERSHAM Park, September ^s, 1813. 

** My dearest Frank, — The i ith of this month 
brought me your letter, and I assure you I thought 
it very well worth its two and three-pence. I am 
very much obliged to you for filling me so long a 
sheet of paper ; you are a good one to traffic with 
in that way, you pay most liberally ; my letter 
was a scratch of a note compared to yours, and 
then you write so even, so clear, both in style and 
penmanship, so much to the point, and give so 
much intelligence, that it is enough to kill one. I 
am sorry Sweden is so poor, and my riddle so bad. 
The idea of a fashionable bathing-place in Meck- 
lenberg ! How can people pretend to be fashion- 
able or to bathe out of England.'* Rostock market 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

makes one's mouth water ; our cheapest butcher's 
meat is double the price of theirs ; nothing under 
nine-pence all this summer, and I believe upon 
recollection nothing under ten-pence. Bread has 
sunk and is likely to sink more, which we hope 
may make meat sink too. But I have no occasion 
to think of the price of bread or of meat where I 
am now ; let me shake off vulgar cares and con- 
form to the happy indifference of East Kent 
wealth, I wonder whether you and the King of 
Sweden knew that I was to come to Godmersham 
with .my brother. Yes, I suppose you have re- 
ceived due notice of it by some means or other. 
I have not been here these four years, so I am 
sure the event deserves to be talked of before and 
behind, as well as in the middle. We left Chawton 
on the 14th, spent two entire days in town, and 
arrived here on the 17th. My brother, Fanny, 
Lizzie, Marianne, and I composed this division of 
the family, and filled his carriage inside and out. 
Two post-chaises, under the escort of George, 
conveyed eight more across the country, the chair 
brought two, two others came on horseback, and 
the rest by coach, and so, by one means or another, 
we all are removed. It puts me in remind of 
St. Paul's shipwreck, when all are said, by different 
means, to reach the shore in safety. I left my 
mother, Cassandra, and Martha well, and have 
had good accounts of them since. At present 


Another Letter from Jane 

they are quite alone, but they are going to be 
visited by Mrs. Heathcote and Miss Bigg, and to 
have a few days of Henry s company likewise. 

" I expect to be here about two months, Edward 
is to be in Hampshire again in November, and 
will take me back. I shall be sorry to be in Kent 
so long without seeing Mary, but I am afraid it 
must be so. She has very kindly invited me to 
Deal, but is aware of the great improbability of 
my being able to get there. It would be a great 
pleasure to me to see Mary Jane again too, and 
her brothers, new and old. Charles and his 
family I do hope to see ; they are coming here for 
a week in October. We were accommodated in 
Henrietta Street. Henry was so good as to find 
room for his three nieces and myself in his house. 
Edward slept at a hotel in the next street. 
No. lo is made very comfortable with cleaning 
and painting, and the Sloane Street furniture. 
The front room upstairs is an excellent dining 
and common sitting parlour, and the smaller one 
behind will sufficiently answer his purpose as a 
drawing-room. He has no intention of giving 
large parties of any kind. His plans are all for 
the comfort of his friends and himself. Madame 
Bigeon and her daughter have a lodging in his 
neighbourhood, and come to him as often as he 
likes, or as they like. Madame B. always mar- 
kets for him, as she used to do, and, upon our 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

being in the house, was constantly there to do the 
work. She is wonderfully recovered from the 
severity of her asthmatic complaint. Of our three 
evenings in town, one was spent at the Lyceum, 
and another at Covent Garden. '* The Clandes- 
tine Marriage" was the most respectable of the 
performances, the rest were sing-song and trum- 
pery; but it did very well for Lizzy and Marianne, 
who were indeed delighted, but I wanted better 
acting. There was no actor worth naming. I 
believe the theatres are thought at a very low ebb 
at present. Henry has probably sent you his 
own account of his visit in Scotland. I wish he 
had had more time, and could have gone further 
north, and deviated to the lakes in his way back ; 
but what he was able to do seems to have afforded 
him great enjoyment, and he met with scenes of 
higher beauty in Roxburghshire than I had sup- 
posed the South of Scotland possessed. Our 
nephew's gratification was less keen than our 
brother's. Edward is no enthusiast in the beauties 
of nature. His enthusiasm is for the sports of 
the field only. He is a very promising and pleas- 
ing young man however, upon the whole, behaves 
with great propriety to his father, and great kind- 
ness to his brothers and sisters, and we must forgive 
his thinking more of grouse and partridges than 
lakes and mountains. He and George are out 
every morning either shooting or with the harriers. 


Another Letter from Jane 

They are good shots. Just at present I am 
mistress and miss altogether here, Fanny being 
gone to Goodnestone for a day or two, to attend 
the famous fair, which makes its yearly distribu- 
tion of gold paper and coloured persian through 
all the family connections. In this house there is 
a constant succession of small events, somebody 
is always going or coming ; this morning we had 
Edward Bridges unexpectedly to breakfast with 
us, on his way from Ramsgate, where is his wife, 
to Lenham, where is his church, and to-morrow he 
dines and sleeps here on his return. They have 
been all the summer at Ramsgate for her health ; 
she is a poor honey — the sort of woman who gives 
me the idea of being determined never to be well 
and who likes her spasms and nervousness, and 
the consequence they give her, better than any- 
thing else. This is an ill-natured statement to 
send all over the Baltic. The Mr. Knatchbulls, 
dear Mrs. Knight's brothers, dined here the other 
day. They came from the Friars, which is still 
on their hands. The elder made many inquiries 
after you. Mr. Sherer is quite a new Mr. Sherer 
to me ; I heard him for the first time last Sunday, 
and he gave us an excellent sermon, a little too 
eager sometimes in his delivery, but that is to me 
a better extreme than the want of animation, 
especially when it evidently comes from the heart, 
as in him. The clerk is as much like you as ever. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

I am always glad to see him on that account 
But the Sherers are going away. He has a bad 
curate at Westwell, whom he can eject only by 
residing there himself. He goes nominally for 
three years, and a Mr. Paget is to have the curacy 
of Godmersham ; a married man, with a very 
musical wife, which I hope may make her a desir- 
able acquaintance to Fanny. 

" I thank you very warmly for your kind consent 
to my application, and the kind hint which followed 
it. I was previously aware of what I should be 
laying myself open to ; but the truth is that the 
secret has spread so far as to be scarcely the 
shadow of a secret now, and that, I believe, when- 
ever the third appears, I shall not even attempt 
to tell lies about it. I shall rather try to make all 
the money than all the mystery I can of it. 
People shall pay for their knowledge if I can 
make them. Henry heard P. and P. warmly 
praised in Scotland by Lady Robert Kerr and 
another lady ; and what does he do, in the warmth 
of his brotherly vanity and love, but immediately 
tell them who wrote it. A thing once set going 
in that way — one knows how it spreads, and he, 
dear creature, has set it going so much more than 
once. I know it is all done from affection and par- 
tiality, but at the same time let me here again 
express to you and Mary my sense of the superior 
kindness which you have shown on the occasion 


Another Letter from Jane 

in doing what I wished. I am trying to harden 
myself. After all, what a trifle it is, in all its 
bearings, to the really important points of one's 
existence, even in this world. 

** I take it for granted that Mary has told 

you of 's engagement to . It came 

upon us without much preparation ; at the same 
time there was that about her which kept us in 
a constant preparation for something. We are 
anxious to have it go on well, there being quite 
as much in his favour as the chances are likely to 
give her in any matrimonial connection. I be- 
lieve he is sensible, certainly very religious, well 
connected, and with some independence. There 
is an unfortunate dissimilarity of taste between 
them in one respect, which gives us some appre- 
hensions ; he hates company, and she is very 
fond of it ; this, with some queerness of temper 
on his side, and much unsteadiness on hers, is 
untoward. I hope Edward's family visit to 
Chawton will be yearly ; he certainly means it 
now, but we must not expect it to exceed two 
months in future. I do not think, however, that 
he found five too long this summer. He was 
very happy there. The new paint improves their 
house much, and we find no evil from the smell. 
Poor Mr. Trimmer is lately dead, a sad loss to 
his family, and occasioning some anxiety to our 
brother ; for the present he continues his affairs 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

in the son's hands, a matter of great importance 
to them. I hope he will have no reason to 
remove his business. 

* * Your very affectionate sister, 

**J. A. 

"There is to be a second edition of S. and S. 
Egerton advises it." 

At the time when this letter was written Charles 
was on the Namur, asFlag-Captain to Sir Thomas 
Williams. His wife and two small children lived 
Y with him on board, an arrangement of somewhat 
doubtful advantage. In the published letters of 
Jane Austen there are some of the same date as 
this one to Frank, written to Cassandra from 
Godmersham, and giving an account of the visit 
of Charles and family which she was expecting in 

'' September 23. — Wrote to Charles yesterday, 
and Fanny has had a letter from him to-day, 
principally to make inquiries about the time 
of their visit here, to which mine was an answer 
beforehand ; so he will probably write again soon 
to fix his week." 

''October 14. — A letter from Wrotham yes- 
terday offering an early visit here, and Mr. 
and Mrs. Moore and one child are to come on 
Monday for ten days. I hope Charles and 
Fanny may not fix the same time, but if they 


Another Letter trom Jane 

come at all in October they must. What is the 
use of hoping ? The two parties of children is 
the chief evil." 

** To be sure, here we are ; the very thing has 
happened, or rather worse — a letter from Charles 
this very morning, which gives us reason to sup- 
pose they may come here to-day. It depends 
upon the weather, and the weather now is very 
fine. No difficulties are made, however, and, 
indeed, there will be no want of room ; but I wish 
there was no Wigrams and Lushingtons in the 
way to fill up the table, and make us such a 
motley set. I cannot spare Mr. Lushington 
either because of his frank, but Mr. Wigram does 
no good to anybody. I cannot imagine how a 
man can have the impudence to come into a 
family party for three days, where he is quite a 
stranger, unless he knows himself to be agreeable 
on undoubted authority. I shall be most happy 
to see dear Charles." 

''Friday, October 15. — They came last night at 
about seven. We had given them up, but I still 
expected them to come. Dessert was nearly 
over ; a better time for arriving than an hour and 
a half earlier. They were late because they 
did not set out earlier, and did not allow time 
enough. Charles did not aim at more than reach- 
ing Sittingbourne by three, which could not have 
brought them here by dinner-time. They had a 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

very rough passage ; he would not have ventured 
if he had known how bad it would be. 

" However, here they are, safe and well, just 
like their own nice selves, Fanny looking as neat 
and white this morning as possible, and dear 
Charles all affectionate, placid, quiet, cheerful 
good humour. They are both looking well, but 
poor little Cassy is grown extremely thin and 
looks poorly. I hope a week's country air and 
exercise may do her good. I am sorry to say it 
can be but a week. The baby does not appear 
so large in proportion as she was, nor quite so 
pretty, but I have seen very little of her. Cassy 
was too tired and bewildered just at first to seem 
to know anybody. We met them in the hall, the 
women and girl part of us, but before we reached 
the library she kissed me very affectionately, and 
has since seemed to recollect me in the same way. 
It was quite an evening of confusion, as you may 
suppose. At first we were all walking about 
from one part of the house to the other, then 
came a fresh dinner in the breakfast-room for 
Charles and his wife, which Fanny and I at- 
tended. Then we moved into the library, were 
joined by the dining-room people, were intro- 
duced, and so forth ; and then we had tea and 
coffee, which was not over till past ten. Bil- 
liards again drew all the odd ones away, and 
Edward, Charles, the two Fannies, and I sat 



Another Letter from Jane 

snugly talking. I shall be glad to have our 
numbers a little reduced, and by the time you 
receive this we shall be only a family, though a 
large family, party. 

" I talked to Cassy about Chawton (Cassandra 
wished to have her there for the winter). She 
remembers much, but does not volunteer on the 
subject. Papa and mamma have not yet made 
up their minds as to parting with her or not ; the 
chief, indeed the only difficulty with mamma is a 
very reasonable one, the child's being very un- 
willing to leave them. When it was mentioned 
to her she did not like the idea of it at all. At 
the same time she has been suffering so much 
lately from sea-sickness that her mamma cannot 
bear to have her much on board this winter. 
Charles is less inclined to part with her. I 
do not know how it will end, or what is to 
determine it. He desires best love to you, 
and has not written because he has not been 
able to decide. They are both very sensible 
of your kindness on the occasion. I have 
made Charles furnish me with something to say 
about young Kendall. He is going on very 
well. When he first joined the Namur my 
brother did not find him forward enough to be 
what they call put in the office, and therefore 
placed him under the schoolmaster, and he is 
very much improved, and goes into the office 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

now every afternoon, still attending school in the 

This is interesting as an example of the way in 
which the young men learnt their work as mid- 

The domestic sideof Charles' character is always 
rather inclined to obtrude itself. Perhaps it was 
of him that Jane was thinking when Admiral Croft 
sums up James Benwick in the words, '* * An excel- 
lent, good-hearted fellow I assure you, a very 
active, zealous officer, too, which is more than you 
would think for perhaps, for that soft sort of 
manner does not do him justice ; " and when later 
on she protests against the ''too common idea of 
spirit and gentleness being incompatible with each 
other." Nevertheless, we have ample proof that 
both sisters thought his domesticity somewhat 
overdone, though it is hardly fair to quote even 
friendly criticism of such an intimate nature. One 
sentence from a letter on October i8 gives the hint 
of what seems to have been Charles' one defect in 
the eyes of his sisters. 

*' I think I have just done a good deed — ex- 
tracted Charles from his wife and children upstairs, 
and made him get ready to go out shooting, and 
not keep Mr. Moore waiting any longer." 

Before Jane's death in 1817, Charles had oppor- 
tunity to show the stuff of which he was made, 
and from that time till his death in 1852, under 


Another Letter from Jane 

circumstances which called for great courage and 
endurance, he fully realised her best hopes. 

The question of Cassy living with her father 
and mother on the Namur reminds one of the 
discussion in ** Persuasion " as to the comforts of 
ladies on board ship. 

" The admiral, after taking two or three refresh- 
ing turns about the room with his hands behind 
him, being called to order by his wife, now came 
up to Captain Wentworth, and without any obser- 
vation of what he might be interrupting, thinking 
only of his own thoughts, began with — * If you 
had been a week later at Lisbon, last spring, 
Frederick, you would have been asked to give 
a passage to Lady Mary Grierson and her 

'* * Should I ? I am glad I was not a week later 

The admiral abused him for his want of gal- 
lantry. He defended himself, though professing 
that he would never willingly admit any ladies on 
board a ship of his, excepting for a ball, or a visit, 
which a few hours might comprehend. ** But, if 
I know myself," said he, *' this is from no want of 
gallantry towards them. It is rather from feeling 
how impossible it is, with all one's efforts and all 
one's sacrifices, to make the accommodations on 
board such as women ought to have. There can 
be no want of gallantry, admiral, in rating the 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

claims of women to every personal comfort high, 
and this is what I do. I hate to hear of women 
on board, or to see them on board, and no ship 
under my command shall ever convey a family of 
ladies anywhere if I can help it' " 

This brought his sister upon him. 

'* *0h, Frederick! But I cannot believe it of 
you. All idle refinement! Women may be as 
comfortable on board as in the best house in 
England. I believe I have lived as much on board 
as most women, and I know nothing superior to the 
accommodation of a man-of-war. I declare I have 
not a comfort or an indulgence about me, even at 
Kellynch Hall ' (with a kind bow to Anne), 
* beyond what I always had in most of the ships I 
have lived in, and they have been five altogether.' 

** * Nothing to the purpose,' replied her brother. 
** You were living with your husband, and were the 
only woman on board.' 

*' * But you, yourself, brought Mrs. Harville, her 
sister, her cousin, and the three children round 
from Portsmouth to Plymouth. Where was this 
superfine, extraordinary sort of gallantry of yours 

" * All merged in my friendship, Sophia. I would 
assist any brother officer's wife that I could, and I 
would bring anything of Harville's from the world's 
end, if he wanted it. But do not imagine that I 
did not feel it an evil, in itself.' 


Another Letter from Jane 

" * Depend upon it, they were all perfectly com- 

" * I might not like them the better for that, 
perhaps. Such a number of women and children 
have no right to be comfortable on board.' 

*"My dear Frederick, you are talking quite idly. 
Pray, what would become of us poor sailors' wives, 
who often want to be conveyed to one port or 
another, after our husbands, if everybody had 
your feelings.' 

** * My feelings you see did not prevent 
my taking Mrs. Harville and all her family to 

" * But I hate to hear you talking so like a fine 
gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, 
instead of rational creatures. We none of us 
expect to be in smooth water all our days.' 

** ' Ah, my dear,' said the Admiral, * when he 
has got a wife he will sing a different tune. When 
he is married, if we have the good luck to live to 
another war, we shall see him do as you and I, 
and a great many others, have done. We shall 
have him very thankful to anybody that will bring 
him his wife.' 

** ' Ay, that we shall.' 

" 'Now I have done,' cried Captain Wentworth. 

When once married people begin to attack me 

with — **Oh, you will think very differently when 

you are married," I can only say, ** No, I shall 

257 R 

Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

not," and then they say again, ** Yes, you will," and 
there is an end of it.' 

"He got up and moved away. 

" * What a great traveller you must have been, 
ma'am,' said Mrs. Musgrove to Mrs. Croft. 

" * Pretty well, ma'am, in the fifteen years of my 
marriage, though many women have done more. 
1 have crossed the Atlantic four times, and have 
been once to the East Indies and back again, and 
only once ;. besides being in different places about 
home : Cork, and Lisbon, and Gibraltar. But I 
never went beyond the Straits, and was never in 
the West Indies. We do not call Bermuda or 
Bahama, you know, the West Indies.' 

*' Mrs. Musgrove had not a word to say in dis- 
sent : she could not accuse herself of having ever 
called them anything in the whole course of her 

" ^ And I do assure you, ma'am,' pursued Mrs. 
Croft, *that nothing can exceed the accommoda- 
tions of a man-of-war. I speak, you know, of the 
higher rates. When you come to a frigate, of 
course you are more confined ; though any reason- 
able woman may be perfectly happy in one of 
them ; and I can safely say that the happiest part 
of my life has been spent on board a ship. While 
we were together, you know, there was nothing to 
be feared. Thank God ! I have always been 
blessed with excellent health, and no climate dis- 


Another Letter from Jane 

agrees with me. The only time that I ever really 
suffered in body and mind, the only time that I 
ever fancied myself unwell, or had any ideas of 
danger, was the winter that I passed by myself at 
Deal, when the Admiral (Captain Croft then) was 
in the North Seas. I lived in perpetual fright at 
that time, and had all manner of imaginary com- 
plaints from not knowing what to do with myself, 
or when I should hear from him next ; but as 
long as we could be together, nothing ever ailed 
me, and I never met with the smallest incon- 

'' * Ay, to be sure. Yes, indeed, oh yes. I am 
quite of your opinion, Mrs. Croft,' was Mrs. Mus- 
grove's hearty answer. * There is nothing so bad 
as a separation. I am quite of your opinion. I 
know what it is, for Mr. Musgrove always attends 
the assizes, and I am so glad when they are over, 
and he is safe back again,' " 



In the letter quoted in the last chapter, we hear 
how Henry let out the secret of Jane's author- 
ship. She has also something to say to Cas- 
sandra about the matter. " Lady Robert Kerr 
is delighted with P. and P., and really was 
so, as I understand, before she knew who wrote 
it, for, of course she knows now. He (Henry) 
told her with as much satisfaction as if it were my 
wish. He did not tell me this, but he told 
Fanny." Perhaps the pleasure that she gained in 
hearing how people enjoyed her books partly 
made up for the annoyance of having her wishes 
for secrecy forgotten. She goes on : ''And Mr. 
Hastings, I am quite delighted with what such a 
man writes about it. Henry sent him the books 
after his return from Daylesford, but you will hear 
the letter too." This is tantalising for those who 
cannot hear the letter too, and still more so when 
she adds later on : '* I long to have you hear Mr. 
H.'s opinion of P. and P. His admiring my 


The End of the War 

Elizabeth so much is particularly welcome to 

The L ,erest of Warren Hastings in the Austen 
family was a long-standing one. Hastings' only 
son was brought up under the care of Jane's 
father and mother at Steventon. When he died, 
in early manhood, the grief of Mrs. Austen was 
as great as if she had lost one of her own children. 
Probably they were entrusted with the care of 
this boy through the influence of George Austen's 
sister, who was married to Dr. Hancock, of Cal- 
cutta, a close friend of Warren Hastings. Their 
daughter, Eliza Hancock, after losing her first 
husband, a French count, under the guillotine in 
the Reign of Terror, married Henry Austen. 
She died in 1813, and Henry's loss was a subject 
of much concern in the family. We can see this 
from Jane's letters at the time to Cassandra, and 
in the one to Frank quoted at length in the last 
chapter, where she expresses her belief that 
Henry's mind is not ** a mind for affliction." 

Frank got home from the Baltic early in 18 14. 
We hear of him in June trying to arrange for a 
visit to his mother. Jane writes : ** I heard 
yesterday from Frank. When he began his letter 
he hoped to be here on Monday, but before it 
was ended he had been told that the naval review 
would not take place till Friday, which would 
probably occasion him some delay, as he cannot 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

get some necessary business of his own attended 
to while Portsmouth is in such a bustle." Her 
books seem to have become more and more of a 
family interest. Mentions of them come in con- 
stantly in the midst of all the family gossip. 
*' Sweet amiable Frank, why does he have a cold 
too ? Like Captain Mirvan to Mr. Duval. * I 
wish it well over with him.' Thank you very 
much for the sight of dearest Charles's letter to 
yourself. How pleasant and naturally he writes, 
and how perfect a picture of his disposition and 
feeling his style conveys ! Poor fellow ! Not a 
present ! I have a great mind to send him all the 
twelve copies (of " Emma"), which were to have 
been dispersed among my near connections, begin- 
ning with the Prince Regent and ending with 
Countess Morley." The mention of Miss Burney's 
** Evelina" is characteristic. It was one of her 
favourite books. 

On Frank's return he naturally wishes to settle 
somewhere with his wife and family after so many 
years afloat, but he did not at once find the sort 
of home he wanted. He occupied Chawton 
Great House for a few years, but this was only a 
temporary arrangement. It must be one of the 
chief pleasures of a novelist to bestow upon her 
characters all the blessings which she would like 
to portion out to her friends. Perhaps it was 
something of this feeling which induced Jane to 


The End of the War 

draw the ideal home of a naval man in " Per- 
suasion." Certainly in tastes and feelings there V' 
is much similarity between Harville and Frank 

" Captain Harville had taken his present house 
for half a year ; his taste, and his health, and his 
fortune, all directing him to a residence unex- 
pensive, and by the sea ; and the grandeur of the 
country, and the retirement of Lyme in the 
winter, appeared exactly adapted to ; Captain 
Benwick's state of mind. Nothing could be more 
pleasant than their desire of considering the whole 
party as friends of their own, because the friends 
of Captain Wentworth, or more kindly hospitable 
than their entreaties for their all promising to dine 
with them. The dinner, already ordered at the 
inn, was at last, though unwillingly, accepted as 
an excuse, but they seemed almost hurt that 
Captain Wentworth should have brought such a 
party to Lyme, without considering it as a thing 
of course that they should dine with them. 

** There was so much attachment to Captain 
Wentworth in all this, and such a bewitching 
charm in a degree of hospitality so uncommon, so 
unlike the usual style of give-and-take invitations, 
and dinners of formality and display, that Anne 
felt her spirits not likely to be benefited by an 
increasing acquaintance among his brother officers. 
* These would all have been my friends,' was her 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

thought, and she had to struggle against a great 
tendency to lowness. 

** On quitting the Cobb they all went indoors 
with their new friends, and found rooms so small 
as none but those who invite from the heart could 
think capable of accommodating so many. Anne 
had a moment's astonishment on the subject 
herself, but it was soon lost in the pleasant feelings 
which sprang from the sight of all the ingenious 
contrivances and nice arrangements of Captain 
Harville to turn the actual space to the best pos- 
sible account, to supply the deficiencies of lodging- 
house furniture, and defend the windows and doors 
against the winter storms to be expected. The 
varieties in the fitting up of the rooms, where the 
common necessaries provided by the owner, in 
the common indifferent plight, were contrasted 
with some few articles of a rare species of wood, 
excellently worked up, and with something 
curious and valuable from all the distant countries 
Captain Harville had visited, were more than 
amusing to Anne ; connected as it all was with 
his profession, the fruit of its labours, the effect 
of its influence on his habits, the picture of repose 
and domestic happiness it presented, made it to 
her a something more or less than gratification. 

** Captain Harville was no reader; but he had 
contrived excellent accommodations, and fashioned 
very pretty shelves, for a tolerable collection of 


The End of the War 

well-bound volumes, the property of Captain 
Benwick. His lameness prevented him from 
taking much exercise ; but a mind of usefulness 
and ingenuity seemed to furnish him with constant 
employment within. He drew, he varnished, he 
carpentered, he glued ; he made toys for the 
children ; he fashioned new netting-needles and 
pins with improvements ; and if everything else 
was done, sat down to his large fishing-net at 
one corner of the room. 

" Anne thought she left great happiness behind 
her when they quitted the house ; and Louisa, 
by whom she found herself walking, burst forth 
into raptures of admiration and delight on the 
character of the Navy, their friendliness, their 
brotherliness, their openness, their uprightness ; 
protesting that she was convinced of sailors having 
more worth and warmth than any other set of 
men in England ; that they only knew how to live, 
and they only deserved to be respected and 

No one reading ** Persuasion " could doubt that, 
ready as Jane always was to laugh at absurdities 
of fashion, yet the national enthusiasm for the 
Navy had not failed to touch her heart any 
more that it had missed her sense of humour. 
Trying as Louisa's encomium must have been to 
Anne, with her mind full of regrets over her 
broken engagement with Captain Wentworth, it 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

was the Inward agreement of her mind with this 
admiration for simplicity and affection which gave 
her the worst pain. The nation had passed 
through a crisis, and after the stress of war, the 
happy family life was the one thing admirable. 

Captain Charles Austen had spent ten years on 
active service, outside the theatre of hostilities, 
but now he was brought into closer touch during 
the confusion caused by the escape of Napoleon 
from Elba. The Phoenix frigate under his com- 
mand was sent with the Undatmted and the 
Garland in pursuit of a Neapolitan squadron 
cruising in the Adriatic. Since 1808 Naples 
had been under the rule of Murat, Napoleon's 
brother-in-law. It was, therefore, Murat's flag 
which was attacked by the British men-of-war. 

Joachim Murat's history is a curiously romantic 
one. As his dealings with Napoleon created the 
situation in Naples which called for British inter- 
ference, it will not be a digression to give some 
account of him. His origin was a low one, and it 
was chiefly as the husband of Napoleon's sister 
Caroline that he came to the front. As a soldier 
his talents were great, but he was no diplomatist, 
and too impetuous and unstable to be successful. 
He fought under Napoleon in most of the cam- 
paigns from Marengo to Leipzig, and first entered 
Naples as the victorious general of the French 
army. In 1808, at a time when Napoleon was 



The End of the War 

giving away kingdoms, Joseph Bonaparte, the 
King of Naples, was awarded the somewhat empty 
and unsatisfactory honour of the kingdom of 
Spain ; and at the same time, to take his place, 
Murat was raised to the dignity of *^ King of the 
Two Sicilies." The Bourbon King Ferdinand, 
who bore the same title, had been maintained in 
power in the island of Sicily by the British fleet 
ever since Nelson's time. Murat's great idea was 
the unity of Italy, under himself as King, and he 
perhaps had hopes that Napoleon would support 
him. At all events, he was loyal to the Emperor 
until 1811, when he went to Paris for the baptism 
of Napoleon's son, but came away before the 
ceremony on learning that the infant was to be 
*' King of Rome." He dismissed his French 
troops, and resolved to govern without reference 
to Napoleon. Unable, however, to resist a call to 
arms from his former chief, in 181 2 he went to 
Russia in command of the heavy cavalry, and was 
the first to cross the frontier. He went twenty 
leagues beyond Moscow, and finally left the army 
on the retreat at the Oder. He handed over the 
command to Eugene Beauharnais, and returned to 

Among others who saw that Napoleon's power 
was on the wane, Murat now turned against him, 
and proposed, through Lord William Bentinck at 
Palermo, a treaty of peace with England, on 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

the basis of the unification of Italy under his own 
sovereignty. This agreement was made, and 
needed only the formal consent of the British 
Government, when Murat suddenly threw it all 
over, and at Napoleon's bidding went off to fight 
for him in the campaign of 1813 at Dresden and 
Leipzig. On his return, however, the King again 
began his negotiations with the allies,and arranged 
a treaty with Austria. The Congress of Vienna 
debated the question of allowing him to remain 
King. As matters stood, it was difficult to find a 
reason for turning him out, as he now appeared 
to have definitely abandoned the Emperor s cause. 
But, naturally, it was impossible to repose much 
confidence In his assertions. He himself seems 
scarcely to have known his own mind, and was 
ready to ally himself with either side. If by that 
means he could secure his heart's desire of the 
kingdom of Italy. His wife cared more for her 
brother's cause than for her husband's, but Joachim 
trusted her completely. They had for long kept 
up the appearance of disagreement, in order to 
collect round them the leaders of all parties ; and 
now when the dissension was real, he hardly 
realised how little her sympathies were with him. 
It seems not unlikely that England and Austria 
would have trusted him, and allowed him to 
retain his throne, as, on the whole, he had 
governed well ; but he himself decided the ques- 


The End of the War 

tion in a characteristic way. He had tidings of 
Napoleon's projected escape from Elba, and 
espoused his cause. The kingdom of the Two 
Sicilies was thereupon attacked by the allies, 
and before Waterloo was fought the Bourbon 
King Ferdinand was reinstated at Naples under 
the protection of the fleets. Queen Caroline, 
Murat's wife, was escorted by British sailors from 
the palace. The ship bearing her away passed 
another British ship, which brought Ferdinand 
back to his capital. 

The city of Naples had surrendered, but 
Brindisi still held out. It was here that Charles 
Austen was employed in blockading the port as 
Captain of the Phoenix, with the Garland under 
his orders. After a short time negotiations were 
begun, and, without much serious fighting, he 
induced the garrison of the castle and the com- 
manders of the two frigates in the port to hoist the 
white flag of the Bourbons, in place of the crim- 
son and white on a blue ground which Joachim 
Murat had adopted. It is a matter of history 
how Murat, with a few followers, attempted to set 
up this flag again a few months later in Calabria, 
but was taken prisoner and shot. It is evident 
that his estrangement from Napoleon originated 
with the title of '* King of Rome " being conferred 
on the boy born in 1811 — a clear indication that 
the Emperor was no party to his schemes of 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

uniting Italy. Whether or not the change of 
monarchs was a good one for the Neapolitan 
people, the restored kingdom of the Two Sicilies 
lasted until Garibaldi caused its complete collapse 
in i860, and accomplished Murat's ideal for Italy. 

After this episode Captain Charles Austen was 
kept busy with Greek pirates in the Archipelago 
until the Phoenix was lost off Smyrna in 18 16. 
He then returned to England. 

There is an extract from one of his letters to 
Jane at this time, dated May 6, 181 5, from 
Palermo, which shows something of the degree of 
popularity which her books had then attained. 
** Books became the subject of conversation, and 
I praised ' Waverley ' highly, when a young man 
present observed that nothing had come out for 
years to be compared with * Pride and Prejudice,' 
* Sense and Sensibility,' &c. As I am sure you 
must be anxious to know the name of a person of 
so much taste, I shall tell you it is Fox, a nephew 
of the late Charles James Fox. That you may 
not be too much elated at this morsel of praise, I 
shall add that he did not appear to like * Mans- 
field Park' so well as the two first, in which, 
however, I believe he is singular." 

Early in 18 16 Jane's health began to fail, and 
she grew gradually weaker until she died, in July 
18 1 7. There is a letter from her to Charles, 
dated from Chawton on April 6, 181 7, which is 


, •> ', J > J J 

I I . ' I i ' ^ 



The End of the War 

inscribed in his handwriting, " My last letter 
from dearest Jane." It is full of courage, even 
through its weariness. Most of it relates to 
purely family matters, but the tenor of it all is 
the same — that of patient cheerfulness : 

** My dearest Charles, — Many thanks for 
your affectionate letter. I was in your debt 
before, but I have really been too unwell the last 
fortnight to write anything that was not abso- 
lutely necessary. . . . There was no standing 
Mrs. Cooke's affectionate way of speaking of 
your countenance, after her seeing you. God 
bless you all. Conclude me to be going on well, 
if you hear nothing to the contrary. 

** Yours ever truly, 

*'J. A. 

" Tell dear Harriet that whenever she wants 
me in her service again she must send a Hackney 
Chariot all the way for me, for I am not strong 
enough to travel any other way, and I hope 
Cassy will take care that it is a green one." 

Both Francis and Charles Austen were at 
home at the time of Jane's death in 1817. 
In the May before she died she was prevailed 
upon to go to Winchester, to be under the 
care of Mr. Lyford, a favourite doctor in that 
part. She and Cassandra lived in College Street. 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

She had always been fond of Winchester — in the 
true **Jane Austen spirit," partly because her 
nephews were at school there — and her keen in- 
terest in her surroundings did not desert her even 
now, when she, and all around her, knew that 
she was dying. A set of verses, written only 
three days before her death, though of no great 
merit in themselves, have a value quite their own 
in showing that her unselfish courage and cheer- 
fulness never failed her. Only a few hours after 
writing them she had a turn for the worse, and 
died early on the morning of July i8. 

"Winchester, /«/y 15, 1817. 

" When Winchester races first took their beginning 
'Tis said that the people forgot their old saint, 
That they never applied for the leave of St. Swithun, 
And that William of Wykeham's approval was faint. 

" The races however were fixed and determined, 

The company met, and the weather was charming ; 
The lords and the ladies were satined and ermined, 
And nobody saw any future alarming. 

" But when the old saint was informed of their doings, 
He made but one spring from his shrine to the roof 
Of the palace that now stands so sadly in ruins, 
And thus he addressed them, all standing aloof: 

"* Oh, subject rebellious ! Oh, Venta depraved ! 
When once we are buried you think we are dead ; 
But behold me immortal — by vice you're enslaved, 
You have sinned, and must suffer,' then further he said — 

The End of the War 

" ' These races, and revels, and dissolute measures. 
With which you're debasing a neighbouring plain ; 
Let them stand — you shall meet with a curse in your pleasures. 
Set oif for your course. I'll pursue with my rain. 

" * You cannot but know my command o'er July ; 

Thenceforward I'll triumph in showing my powers ; 
Shift your race as you will, it shall never be dry. 
The curse upon Venta is July in showers.' " 




We have shown, so far as is possible, the influ- 
ence that the lives of her two sailor brothers had 
upon the writings of Jane Austen. It now only 
remains to show how both of them, in their 
different ways, fulfilled her hopes for them. This 
can be best done by a brief summary of the chief 
events in their careers. At the time of her death 
they were men on either side of forty. Francis 
lived to be ninety-one, and Charles to be seventy- 
three, so both had many more years of activity 
and service before them. 

In 1826 Charles was again on the West Indies 
station. Here he stayed for more than two 
years, and was chiefly employed in suppressing 
the slave-trade. He was always very happy in 
the management of crews. It was partly owing 
to his more than usual care in this respect while 
stationed here on board the Aurora, and partly 
to his general activity as second in command, 
that he gained his appointment as Flag-Captain to 


Two Admirals 

Admiral Colpoys in the Winchester on the same 
station in 1828. He was invalided home in 1830, 
as the result of a severe accident. This prevented 
him from being again employed until 1838, when 
he was appointed to the Bellerophon, still only a 
Captain after nearly thirty years' service in that 

Some years before this, Mehemet Ali, Pasha of 
Egypt, had conquered Syria from his Suzerain, 
the Sultan, and now wished to declare himself 
independent, thereby coming into collision with 
the traditional policy of England and France in 
the Levant. In 1840 Admiral Stopford's fleet 
was sent to the coast of Syria to interfere with 
communications between the Pasha s army and 
Egypt. Charles Austen in the Belleropkon 
(called by the seamen the ** Billy Ruffian'^) took 
part in the bombardment of the Beyrout forts, 
and afterwards was stationed in one of the neigh- 
bouring bays, guarding the entrance of the pass 
by which Commodore Sir Charles Napier had ad- 
vanced up the Lebanon to attack Ibrahim Pasha 
and the Egyptians. In Napier's words : ** It was 
rather a new occurrence for a British Commodore 
to be on the top of Mount Lebanon commanding a 
Turkish army, and preparing to fight a battle 
which should decide the fate of Syria." He won 
the battle and returned to the Powerful, with some 
reluctance, making way for Colonel Smith, who 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

was appointed by the Sultan to command his 
forces in Syria. 

The Admiral and Colonel Smith shortly after- 
wards decided on capturing Acre, the chief strong- 
hold now remaining in the Egyptian occupation. 

In a letter to Lord Palmerston, Colonel Smith 
describes the action : ** On October 26 it was 
finally determined between Sir Robert Stopford 
and myself that the siege of Acre should be 
undertaken. Owing to the light winds the ships 
did not get into action till 2 p.m. on November 3, 
when an animated fire commenced, and was 
maintained without intermission until darkness 
closed the operations of the day. About three 
hours later the Governor, with a portion of the 
garrison, quitted the town, which was taken pos- 
session of by the allied troops at daylight the 
following morning. The moral influence on the 
cause in which we are engaged that will result 
from its surrender is incalculable. During the 
bombardment the principal magazine and the 
whole arsenal blew up." 

There is an extract from Charles Austen's 
journal, which also gives a slight account of the 
bombardment : 

" 9 A.M. — Received a note from the Admiral 
(Stopford) telling me the Powerful (Commodore 
Napier) was to lead into action, followed by 
Princess Charlotte (flag), Bellerophon and Thun- 


Two Admirals 

derer, who were all to lay against the Western 

''Later. — Working up to the attack with light 

'* 11.30.— Piped to dinner. 

**i P.M. — Bore up to our station, passing outside 
the shoal to the south, and then to the westward 
again inside. 

" 2.30. — Anchored astern of the Princess 
Charlotte, and abreast of the Western Castle, and 
immediately commenced firing, which the enemy 
returned, but they fired high, and only two shots 
hulled us, hitting no one. 

** At sunset., — Admiral signalled * Cease firing,' 
up boats, and then piped to supper, and sat 
down with the two boys to a cold fowl, which we 
enjoyed much. 

''At 9 P.M. — A dish of tea, then gave my night 
orders and turned in." 

The "two boys" were his two sons, Charles 
and Henry, who were serving under him. 

There is a further account of a difficulty with 
Commodore Napier, who had a firm belief in his 
own judgment, which made obedience to orders 
something of a trial to him. Napier, who was 
" as usual a law unto himself," disobeyed the 
Admiral's signals, and, when reprimanded, de- 
manded a court-martial, which was refused. The 
journal then relates that Captain Austen, with two 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

other captains, went on board the Powerful to 
endeavour to persuade the Commodore to climb 
down, ** but the old Commodore was stubborn, 
and we returned to our ships." However, a second 
visit to the Commodore in the afternoon appears 
to have been more successful, and *' I left hoping 
the affair would be settled," which it was. The 
result of this bombardment was altogether satis- 
factory, though some of the ships suffered con- 
siderably from the Egyptian firing. Charles was 
awarded a Companionship of the Bath for his 
share in this campaign. 

In 1846 he became Rear-Admiral, and in 1850 
was appointed Commander-in-Chief on the East 
India Station. 

He left England in the P. & O. steamer Rip on 
for Alexandria, and crossed the desert to Suez, 
as was usual in the overland route. The descrip- 
tion of the mode of travelling by vans, and the 
selection of places therein by lot, has often been 

Lord Dalhousie, as Governor-General at Cal- 
cutta, had taken steps to protect British traders 
from the exactions of the Burmese officials at 
Rangoon by sending a Commission of Inquiry, 
with power to demand reparation. The Com- 
missioner (Commodore Lambert) decided to treat 
only with the King of Ava, who consented, in 
January 1852, to remove the Governor from 



Two Admirals 

Rangoon. This action did not, however, prove 
effectual in settling the grievances, and Com- 
modore Lambert declared the Burmese coast in a 
state of blockade ; his vessel was fired upon, and 
he retaliated by destroying a stockade on the 
river-bank, and some Burmese war-boats. Shortly 
afterwards he received orders to forward to the 
King a despatch of Lord Dalhousie's, demanding 
apology and an indemnity. The same vessel 
again went up the river with the despatch, and 
was attacked by the Burmese. The Governor- 
General thereupon ordered a combined military 
and naval expedition, which was on the coast by 
the end of March. This was to be the last of 
Charles Austen's many enterprises. He shifted 
his flag from the Hastings to the steam sloop 
Rattler at Trincomalee in Ceylon, and proceeded 
to the mouth of the Rangoon river. On April 3, 
accompanied by two ships and the necessary 
troops, he was on his way to Martaban, which 
they attacked and captured on the 5th. The 
place was held by 5000 men ; but after a bom- 
bardment of an hour and a half it was taken by 
storm with small loss. 

On the 10th began a general combined move- 
ment on Rangoon, which fell on the 14th, the 
Rattler taking a leading part in attacking the out- 
lying stockades. The large stockade round the 
town and the pagoda was carried at the point of 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

the bayonet. The navy suffered but little loss 
from the enemy ; but cholera set in, and the 
Admiral fell 111. He was persuaded by the doc- 
tors to leave the river, as all active proceedings 
of the expedition had ceased for the time. He 
went to Calcutta, where, through the kind hospi- 
tality of the Governor-General, he gradually 
recovered his health. Rangoon, with its wonder- 
ful solid pagoda, and all Its Buddhist traditions, 
was now in British hands; but the Burmese 
Government were bent on recapturing It, for cer- 
tain royal offerings to the shrine were among the 
conditions of the King's tenure of his throne. 
The war was therefore continued, and It was 
decided to penetrate further up the river, and with 
a yet stronger force. Admiral Austen thereupon 
returned to duty. On arrival at Rangoon In the 
Hastings he transferred his flag to the steam sloop 
Pluto, and went up the river on a reconnaissance, 
in advance of the combined forces. The main 
body proceeded direct to Henzada, by the princi- 
pal channel of the IrrawadI, while the contingent 
following the Pluto was delayed by the resistance 
of the Burmese leader at Donabyu. It became 
necessary for the main body to make for this point 
also, while Admiral Austen was by this time much 
further north, at Prome. He was anxiously 
awaiting their arrival, while his health grew 
worse during the two or three weeks spent in this 


Two Admirals 

unhealthy region. On October 6, his last notes at 
Prome are as follows: "Received a report that 
two steamers had been seen at anchor some miles 
below, wrote this and a letter to my wife, and 
read the lessons of the day." On the following 
morning he died. The Burmese leader was also 
killed during the assault, which took place at 
Donabyu not long afterwards, and his army then 
retreated. The British battalions were eventually 
quartered on the hill above Prome, overlooking 
the wide river, not far from Lord Dalhousie's new 
frontier of Lower Burmah. Now thick jungle 
covers alike the camp and the site of the fort of 
Donabyu (White Peacock Town), for Upper 
Burmah is British too, and there is no king to 
make offerings at the Rangoon shrine. 

The death of Charles was a heavy blow to 
Francis. The only other survivor of all his bro- 
thers and sisters, Edward Knight, ofGodmersham 
and Chawton, died at about the same time ; 
but Francis had still thirteen years of life 
before him. To realise what his life had been 
we must return to the close of the long war, when 
he came on shore from the Elephant^ and was not 
called upon to go to sea again for thirty years. 
It is easy to imagine the changes that had taken 
place in the Navy in the interval between his times 
of active service. 

During these years on shore several honours 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

fell to his share. He had been awarded his C.B. 
in 1815, on the institution of that distinc- 
tion. In 1825 he was appointed Colonel of 
Marines, and in 1830 Rear- Admiral. About the 
same time he purchased Portsdown Lodge, 
where he lived for the rest of his Hfe. This 
property is now included within the lines of 
forts for the defence of Portsmouth, and was 
bought for that purpose by the Government some 
years before his death. At the last investiture by 
King William IV. in 1837 he received the 
honour of K.C.B. ; and the next year, on the 
occasion of Queen Victoria's Coronation, he was 
promoted to the rank of Vice- Admiral. In 1845 
he took command of the North American and 
West Indies Station. This command in the 
Vindictive forms a notable contrast to his earlier 
experiences in the West Indies. How often he 
must have called to mind as he visited Barbadoes, 
Jamaica, or Antigua, the excitements of the 
Canopus cruises of forty years ago ! How differ- 
ent too the surroundings had become with the 
regular English mail service, and the paddle-wheel 
sloops of war in place of brigs such as the Curieux 
— and, greatest change of all, no such urgent ser- 
vices to be performed as that of warning England 
against the approach of an enemy's fleet ! 

Nevertheless, there was plenty to be done. The 
Naval Commander-in-Chief has no easy berth, 


Two Admirals 

even in time of peace. His letters tell us of some 
of the toils which fell to his share. 

" Our passage from Bermuda was somewhat 
tedious ; we left it on February 6, called oft 
Antigua on the 15th, and, without anchoring the 
ship, I landed for an hour to inspect the naval 
yard," rather an exertion in the tropics, for a man 
of seventy-three. A voyage to La Guayra fol- 
lows. It appears that Venezuela was giving as 
much trouble in 1848 as in 1900. 

*' A political question is going on between the 
Government of Caraccas and our Charge d'affaires, 
and a British force is wanted to give weight to our 
arguments. I am afraid it will detain us a good 
while, as I also hear that there is a demand for a 
ship-of-war to protect property from apprehended 
outrage in consequence of a revolutionary insur- 

We find that the Vindictive was at Jamaica within 
a fortnight or so. It would appear that the 
Government of the Caraccas (legitimate or revo- 
lutionary) was quickly convinced by the weight of 
the arguments of a 50-gun ship. 

The following general memorandum may be 
interesting with reference to the expedition 
against Grey town, Nicaragua. 

*' The Vice- Admiral Commander-in-Chief has 
much gratification in signifying to the squadron 
the high sense he entertains of the gallantry and 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

good conduct of Captain Loch, of her Majesty's 
ship Alarm, and of every officer and man of her 
Majesty's ships Alarm and Vixeii, and of the 
officers and soldiers of her Majesty's 28th Regi- 
ment, employed under his orders on the expedi- 
tion up the river St. Juan, and especially for the 
cool and steady intrepidity evinced while under a 
galling fire from a nearly invisible enemy on the 
morning of February 12, and the irresistible 
bravery with which the works of Serapagui were 
stormed and carried. The result has been an 
additional proof that valour, when well directed 
and regulated by discipline, will never fail in 
effecting its object." 

There are also notes about the Mexican and 
United States War then in progress, and instruc- 
tions to treat Mexican privateers severely if they 
interfered with neutral craft. Strong measures 
were also to be enforced against slave-traders, 
who still sailed under Brazilian and Portuguese 
flags, but were now reprobated by international 
treaties generally. 

In May 1848 the Vindictive was met by Vice- 
Admiral the Earl of Dundonald in the Wellesley, 
Lord Dundonald was to take over the command 
from Sir Francis. We have no record of any 
meeting between these two officers since the days 
when Lord Cochrane in the Speedy and Captain 
Austen in the Peterel were in the Mediterranean 



Two Admirals 

together, almost half a century earlier. Sir 
Francis' letters mention with pleasure the desire 
on the part of his successor to continue matters 
on the same lines. 

His return to England was coincident with 
promotion to the rank of Admiral. In 1854, at 
the outbreak of the Crimean War, the Portsmouth 
command was declined as too onerous for an 

In i860 Sir Francis received the G.C.B., and 
in 1862 the successive honours of Rear- Admiral 
and Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom, fol- 
lowed in 1863 by promotion to the senior position 
in the British Navy as Admiral of the Fleet. 

"The Admiralty, April 27, 1863. 

** Sir, — I am happy to acquaint you that I have 
had the pleasure of bringing your name before 
the Queen for promotion to Admiral of the Fleet, 
and that her Majesty has been graciously pleased 
to approve of the appointment * as a well- 
deserved reward for your brilliant services.' 
** I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, 

** Somerset." 

From the year 1858 Sir Francis had become 
gradually less able to move about. He retained 
all his faculties and his ability to write, almost as 


Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers 

clearly as ever, until just before his death in 
August 1865. 

The strong sense of justice, manifest in his 
rigid adherence to discipline as a young man, was 
tempered later in life by his love for children and 
grandchildren, constant through so many years. 

Of both Jane Austen's brothers it may be said 
that they were worthy members of that profes- 
sion which is, '* if possible, more distinguished 
for its domestic virtues than for its national 




Acasta, 167, 170, 174, 177 

Acre, siege of, 58, 59 ; bombardment 
of, 276 

Agamemnon, 165, 167, 174 

Ajax, 162 

Alarm, 284 

V Alexandre, 167,172, 173, 178 

Alfred, 201 

Algeciras, 53, 91 

Amazon, 135, 141 

Amethyst, 167 

Amiens, peace of, 112 

Amphion, 135, 141 

Anholt, Island of, 228, 229 

Anstruther, Brigadier-General, 199- 

Arethtisa, 167 

Atlas, 174 

Aurora, 81 ; under Charles Austen, 
36, 274 

Austen, Cassandra, bringing up, 10- 
12 ; letters from Jane, 42, 43, 48, 
49. SO, SI. 52. 95-104, 107, 109, 
180-203, 204-208, 210, 250 

Austen, Charles, bringing up, ii ; 
education, 15 ; midshipman, 21 ; 
in Dcedalus, 23 ; in Utticom, 23 ; 
in Endymion, 23 ; as lieutenant in 
Scorpion, 45 ; in Tamar, 48, 52 ; 
in Endymioji, 48, 53, 91, 109 ; 
prizes, 91 ; return home in 1800, 
95 ; reappouitment to Endymion , 
122 ; appointment to Indian as 
Commander, 122 ; on North 
American station, 205-210 ; mar- 
riage, 207 ; capture of La Jeune 
Estelle, 207 ; promotion to post 
rank, 207 ; in Swiftsure, 207 ; 
letter to Jane, 209; in Cleopatra, 

210 ; home-coming in 1811, 210 ; 
in Namur, 211 ; his children at 
Chawton, 236 ; visit to Godmers- 
ham, 250 -253 ; in Phcenix, 266 ; 
letter to Jane about her books, 270; 
last letter from Jane, 271 ; on West 
Indies station, 274; in Aurora, 
274 ; in Winchester, 275 ; in Bel- 
lerophon, 275 ; awarded C.B., 278; 
Rear-Admiral, 278 ; Commander- 
in-Chief on East India station, 278 ; 
in Second Burmese War, 278 ; 
in Hastings, 278 ; in Pluto, 281 ; 
death in 1852, 281 

Austen, Edward, afterwards Knight, 
43 ; death of wife, 204 ; at Chaw- 
ton, 234 ; at Godmersham, 244- 
249 ; death in 1852, 281 

Austen, Francis William, bringing 
up, II ; education, 15 ; letter from 
his father, 17-20; midshipman in 
Perseverance, Crown and Minerva^ 
16, 23 ; lieutenant, 28 ; in Sea- 
horse, 45, 57; in LoJ^don, 29, 45, 
S7 ; in Glory, 29 ; in Lark, 41 ; ap- 
pointed to Triton, 44 ; to Petcrel 
as Commander, 48-51 ; letter to 
Nelson, 63 ; capture of La Ligu- 
rienne, 83-86 ; promotion to post 
rank, 86,107, m I return home in 
1801, io8; appointed to Neptune 
as Flag-captain to Admiral Gam- 
bier, III ; at Ramsgate, 112-114; 
engagement, 113 ; appointed to 
Leopard, 115; letters from Jane, 
125, 127, 129, 233, 243 ; appointed 
to Canopus, 124 ; chase to West 
Indies, 130-146; letters to Mary 
Gibson, 148-161, 174-176 ; after 



Trafalgar, 162; meeting with Ville- 
neuve, 159 ; wish for a frigate, 
160, 164, 185 ; in action of St. 
Domingo, 164-179 ; marriage, 181 ; 
appointed to SL Aldafis, 186; at 
Simon's Bay, 186-190 ; at St. He- 
lena, 191-193 ; returnhome in 1807, 
194 ; at Penang, 212-218 ; at Can- 
ton, 219-223 ; dealings;with Viceroy 
of Canton, 210-223 : appointed to 
Caledonia, 225 ; to Elephant, 226 ; 
at Chawton Great house, 262 ; 
awarded C. B. , 282 ; Colonel of 
Marines, 282 ; Rear-Admiral, 282 ; 
at Fortsdown Lodge, 282 ; K.C.B., 
282 ; Vice-Admiral, 282 ; on North 
American and West Indian station, 
282 ; appointed to Vindictive, 282 ; 
meeting with Dundonald, 284; Ad- 
miral, 285 ; G.C.B., 285 ; Rear- 
Admiral of the United Kingdom, 
285 ; Vice-Admiral of the United 
Kingdom, 285 ; Admiral of the 
Fleet. 285 ; death in 1865, 286 

Austen, the Reverend George, 8 ; 
letter to Francis, 16-20 ; death, 

Austen, Henry, 9 ; death of Mrs. 
Henry Austen, 235, 261 ; visit from 
Jane, 245 ; pride in Jane's books, 
248, 260 

Austen, the Reverend James, 97, 

Austen, Jane, bringing up, 10-12 ; 
letters to Cassandra, see Cassandra 
Austen ; letters to Francis, 125, 127, 
129, 233, 243 ; on Sir John Moore, 
203 ; failing health, 270 ; letter to 
Charles, 271 ; death in 1817, 271 ; 
verses written in last illness, 272 

Austen, Mrs., 9, 10, 126, 128 

Austen, Colonel Thomas, 238 

Austerlitz, battle of, 116 

Ava, King of, 278 

Bacchante, captured by Endymion, 

Balgonie, Lord, 124 
Ballast, shingle, 119 ; iron, 120 
Barham, Lord, 140, 141 
Battle of the Nile, 58, 130 
Bayeux tapestry, 115 
Baynton, Captain H. W., 132 
Belleisle, 132, 135, 158 
Bellerophon, 45, 158, 275-278 
Bentinck, Lord William, at Palermo, 


Bernadotte, Crown Prince of Sweden, 
231. 233 

Berthier, General, 200 

Bertie, Admiral, 183 

Bettesworth, Captain, 139, 140 

Bickerton, Sir Richard, 132 

Blackwood, Captain, 149 

Blight, Captain, 202 

Blockades, " Naval Chronicle " on, 
116; Dr. Fitchett on, 117; Nelson 
on, 118 

Bonaparte, Napoleon, departure for 
East, 58 ; in Egypt, 59 ; attacks 
Acre, 59 ; return from East, 78 ; as 
First Consul in Italian campaign, 
87-90 [see under Napoleon) 

Bonaparte, Jerome, 173-174 

Bonaparte, Joseph, 196, 267 

Boulogne, notes on, 120-122 

Boulogne flotilla, 115 

Bowen, Dr., 125, 128 

Boyle, Captain Courtenay, 103, 104 

le Brave, 169 

Bridges, Edward, 247 

Bridport, Lord, 57, 59, 60 

Brindisi blockaded, 269 

Bruix, Admiral, 59-66 

Burmese War, Second, 23, 278-281 

Burney, Fanny, 184, 262 

Burrard, Sir Harry, 197 

Cadiz, blockades of, 29, 147 

Calder, Admiral Sir Robert, 140, 142, 
144, 145, 153 

Caledonia, Francis Austen on, 225 

Canopus, Francis Austen appointed 
to, 124 ; captured from French 
Navy, 130 ; part taken in pursuit of 
Villeneuve, 130-140 ; blockading 
Cadiz, 147 ; in action of St. Domingo, 
165, 167, 174 

Canton, 219, 223 ; Francis Austen's 
dealings with Viceroy, 219-223 

Capitan Pacha, 103, 104 

Caroline of Brunswick, Princess, 41 

Centaur, 73, 80, 138 

Cheminant, M., 139 

Cintra, Convention of, 198 

Cleopatra, Charles Austen in, 210 

Cochrane, Admiral, 169 

CoUingwood, Admiral, 143, 159 

Convoying, incidents in, 149-152, 194, 

Conqueror, 132, 135 

Cornwallis, Admiral, 23, 140, 142 

Courageuse, 80, 86, 87 

Crown, 16, 23 



Culloden, 45, 87 

le Curieux, 138, 139, 140, 142 

Dcedalus, 23 

Dalhousie, Lord, 278 

Dalrymple, General Sir Hew, 197 

Defence, 45 

Defiance, 199, 201 

Desertions, 36, 169 

Despatch boats, insecurity of, 90 

Donabyu, 281 

Donegal, 132, 135, 143, 165, 167, 168, 

D'Ott, Baron, 86, 89 

Duckworth, Commodore, 61 ; after- 
wards Sir John, 165 (at St. 

Dundonald, Lord, meeting with Fran- 
cis Austen at Bermuda, 284 

Durham, Captain, 91, 109 

Elephant, Francis Austen appointed 

to, 226 ; in the Baltic, 228 
Emerald, 78, 80 
" Emma," wedding in, 182 
Endymion, 23, 48, 53 ; captures, 91 ; 

Charles Austen re-appointed to, 122, 

Epervier, 174, 177 
Euryalus, 143, 149, 159, 160, 162 

Ferdinand, King of the Two Sicilies, 

Fox, nephew of Charles James Fox on 

Jane Austen's works, 270 
le. Franklin, 130 
Frigate, Francis Austen's wish for, 160, 

164, 185 
la Furie, captured by Endymion, 91 

Gambier, Admiral, 48, 49, 51 ; Fran- 
cis Austen Flag-captain to, iii, 

Ganteaume, Admiral, ii6, 131 

Garland, 266, 268 

Germes, 98-103 

Gibbs, Dr., 126, 128 

Gibson, Mary, 143 ; letters to, 148- 
161, 174-176 ; marriage, i8i 

Glory, 29 

Goliath, 45, 64 

•• Grand Army of England," 115 

Gtiillaume Tell, 86, 90 

Halcyon, 143 

Hallowell, Captain Benjamin, 132 

Hancock, Dr., 261 

Hardy, Captain Thomas, 132 
Hargood, Captain William, 132 
Hastings, Warren, 260, 261 
Hastings^ 279 
Hermes, "zor/ 
Hoppo, the, 220 
Hotham, Captain, 201 
Hyena, 6i, 62 

V Imperial e^ 172 

Indian, Charles Austen in command 

of, 122, 205-210 
Inglis, Captain, 105 
Italy, Unity of, 266-270 

JouBERT, General, 81, 82 
Junot, General, 197 
Jupiter, 41 

Keats, Captain R. G., 132 

Keith, Admiral Lord, in command 
in the Mediterranean, 65-79 ; con- 
ference with Baron d'Ott, 89 

Kellerman, General, 200 

Kerr, Lady Robert, her opinion of 
"Pride and Prejudice," 248, 250 

Kingfisher, 169,174 

KnatchbuU, Mr., 211, 247 

Knight, Edward [see Edward Austen) 

Krakatoa Island, 225 

Ladrones, 219 

Lambert, Commodore, 278, 279 

Lark, 41 

La Legbre, 21 

Leigh Perrot, Mrs., 236 

Leigh, Thomas, 236 

Leipzig, battle of, 232, 266 

Leopard, 32 ; Francis Austen ap- 
pointed to, 115 ; at Boulogne, 115, 

Leven, Lord and Lady, 133 

Leviathan, 72, 132, 135, 143, 162 

la Liguriejine captured by Peterel, 

Lloyd, Martha, 50, 114 

London, 29, 30, 45, 49, 57 

Louis, Admiral, 115, 130, 132, 136, 

Lyford, Dr., 271 

Magicienne, 174 

Mahan, Captain, on Continental sys- 
tem, 307 
Majestic, 45 
Malays, 212-218 
Malcolm, Captain Pulteney, 132, 199 



"Mansfield Park," Mary Crawford 
on the distance in the wood, 3 ; 
brothers and sisters, 6, 8, 16 ; Wil- 
liam Price as midshipman, 24-27 ; 
promotion of William Price, 46, 
47» 54 I William's cross and Ed- 
mund's chain, 92 ; William's return, 
109; wedding of Maria Bertram, 
181 ; Jane Austen at work on, 237 ; 
Fanny's home-coming, 238 

Marengo, campaign of, 87, 89, 266 

Marlborough, 29, 30, 31 

Mars, 158, 163 

Massena, General, at Genoa, 81, 87, 

Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt, 275 

Melas, General, 89 

Mercury, 219 

Mermaid, 85, 86 

Mexican and United States War, 284 

Minerva, 16 

La Minerve, 82 

Minotaur, 45, 89 

Missiessy, Admiral, 131, 136, 137 ; at 
the Scheldt, 227 

" Le Moniteur," 145, 146 

Moore, Sir John, 198 ; Jane Austen 
on, 203 

Moreau, General, in Italy, 65, 80 

Murat, Joachim, King of Naples, 266, 

Murat, Caroline, 266, 268, 269 

Murray, Admiral George, 132 

Naiad, 142 

Namur, Charles Austen in, 250 

Napier, Commodore Charles, 275-278 

Naples, 266-270 

Napoleon, his " Grand Army of Eng- 
land," 115; display of Bayeux Ta- 
pestry, 115; in Spain, 196-198; 
"Naval Chronicle "on, 122; decline 
of, 231 ; his son King of Rome, 267, 
269 ; dealings with Joachim Murat, 
266, 269 ; escape from Elba, 269 

Naval Academy, 15-16 

"Naval Chronicle" on blockades, 116; 
on Napoleon,i22; on Nelson's return 
from the West Indies, 144 ; censure 
on Sir Robert Calder, 145 

Navy, volunteers in, 15-21 ; early pro- 
motions, 28 ; punishments, 28-31 ; 
work of press-gang, 32-35 ; dififi- 
culty of securing crews, 34 ; prizes, 
37. 71-75 ; mutinies, 29 ; improve- 
ments in comfort, ni ; comments 
on in Jane Austen's novels : Mrs. 

Clay, 3 ; Edward Ferrars, 5 ; Anne 
Elliot, 38, 265 ; Sir Walter EUiot, 
38-40; Louisa Musgrove, 265 ; Lady 
Bertram, 25 ; Henry Crawford, 25 ; 
Jane Austen, 286 

Nelson, at battle of the Nile, 58 ; at 
Palermo, 59, 60 ; in pursuit of Ville- 
neuve, 130-146 ; return from the 
West Indies, 144 ; death of, 155, 156 

Neptwie, III 

Nicaragua, 283, 284 

"Northanger Abbey," brothers and 
sisters, 6 ; Catherine Morland's 
childhood, 12 

Northuniherla7id, 169, 170, 173 

Novi, battle of, 81 

La Ny7nphe, 60 

Orion, 45, 162 
Oudinot, Marshal, 232 

Paget, Captain, 122 

Palmer, Fanny, 207 ; Mrs. Charles 
Austen, 252 

Parliament, thanks of, 179 

Pellew, Captain Israel, 132 

Penang, 212-218 

Peninsular War, beginning of, 196 

Perr^e, Admiral, 78-80 

Perseverance, 16-23 

" Persuasion," Mrs. Clay on Navy, 
3; brothers and sisters, 6; Dick 
Musgrove as midshipman, 24 ; 
Admiral Croft on sharp practice, 
35 ; speedy advancement of Captain 
Wentworth, 37 ; Anne Elliot's com- 
ments on the navy, 38 ; Sir Walter 
Elliot on the navy, 38-40 ; Captain 
Wentworth's description of life on 
board a sloop of war, 74-77 ; argu- 
ment between Captain Harville and 
Anne Elliot, 178 ; question of ladies 
on board ship, 255-259 ; Harville 
family at Lyme Regis, 262 ; Jane 
Austen's comment on the Navy, 286 

Peterel, Francis Austen appointed to, 
48, 51 ; despatch for Lord Nelson 
at Palermo, 61-64 ; captured under 
Captain Charles Long, 67 ; prizes, 
71-73 ; capture of despatches for 
Suwarrow, 83 ; capture of La 
Ligurienne, 83-86 ; blockade of 
Alexandria, 90, 98-103 ; rescue of 
Turkish line-of-battle ship from 
French and Arabs, 99-103 

Phoebe, 227 



Phoenix, Charles Austen in command 
of, 266 ; blockading Brindisi, 269 ; 
lost off Smyrna, 270 

Phifo, Charles Austen's death in, 

Popham, Captain, 112 

Powe7ftd, 72, 165, 167, 168, 170, 275, 

Pressgang, 32-35 

' ' Pride and Prejudice," brothers and 
sisters, 5 ; Lady Robert Kerr's 
opinion of, 248-260 ; Warren Hast- 
ings's opinion of 260 ; Jane Austen's 
opinion of, 237 

Prima, galley, 88 

Prince of Wales, 142, 153 

Princess Caroline, 232 

Princess Charlotte, 276, 277 

Prizes, 37, 71-73, 91, 209 

Proclamation to encourage enlisting, 

Prome, 280-281 

Punishments, 28-31 

Ramsgate, Francis Austen at, 112- 

Rangoon, 216, 278-281 
Rattler, 279 

Robinson, Captain Mark, 132 
Rodd, Captain John Tremayne, 47 
Rowing guard, 88 
Royal Naval Academy, 15, 16 
Royal Proclamation to encourage 

enlisting, 34 
Royal Sovereign, 132, 135, 158, 163 
Rugen, Island of, 230, 231 

St. Albans, Francis Austen appointed 
to, 186 ; difficulty in getting sup- 
plies, 186 ; at Simon's Bay, 186- 
190 ; at St. Helena, 191-193 ; 
expected home, 193 ; at Penang, 
212-218 ; at Canton, 219-223 
St. Domingo, battle of 130, 164-179 
St. Helena, Francis Austen's notes on. 

191-193, 194 

t. Vi 

St. Vincent, battle off Cape, 57 

St. Vincent, Earl, putting down 
mutinies, 30-31 ; moved to Gib- 
raltar, 51 ; sees French fleet enter 
Mediterranean, 60 ; health gives 
way, 65 

Santa Margarita, 21, 22 

Scipio captured by Endymion, 91 

Scorpion, 45, 49 

Scott, Walter, Jane Austen on, 208 

Sea Fencibles, 112-113 

Seahorse, 29, 45, 57 

" Sense and Sensibility," Edward 

Ferrars on navy, 5 ; sale of 237, 

Sherer, Mr., 247 
Simon's Bay, Francis Austen's notes 

on, 186-190, 194 
Smith, Sir Sydney, at Acre, 59 ; off 

Alexandria, 90, 95 
Southampton, home of the Austens, 

Spencer, Lord, 49, 51 
Spencer, 132, 135, 142, 143, 165, 167, 

170, 171, 174 
Steventon, description of family at, 

8 ; of parsonage at, 9 ; bringing up 

of family at, 10-12 
Stopford, Captain the Honourable 

Robert, 132 ; Admiral, 275, 276 
Stuart, Captain John 132 
Success, 80 
Superb, 132, 135, 165, 167, 168, 169, 

170; letter of officer on board, 

171-173, 174 
Suwarrow, Marshal, in Italy, 80-83 
Swedish Pomerania, 230-232 
Swiftsure, 45, 132, 135 ; Charles 

Austen in, 207, 210 
Swordfish, capture of, 228 

Tamar, 48-52 

la Tamise, 21-22 

Timiraire, 158, 163 

Theseus, 45, 76 

Tigre, 79, 90, 98, 103, 132, 13s, 143. 

Tonnant, 163 
Toulon, escape of . Villeneuve's fleet 

from, 131, 133 
Trafalgar, battle of, 131, 141, 155-159 i 

scene after, 162-163 
Trafalgar, Cape, 45 
Tranter, 90, 98, 103 
Trebbia, battle of, 80, 81 
la Tribune, fight with Unicorn, 21, 

Triton, crew impressed, 34 ; Francis 

Austen appointed to, 44 
Troubridge, Captain, 56, 61, 79, 87 
Turkey declares war against France, 


Unicorn, fight with la Tribune, 21, 

United States, illicit carrying trade, 

205 ; war with, 227 



Vanguard, 45 

Victory, 132-142, 148, 158 

Vienna, 116 ; Congress of, 268 

Ville de Paris, 142 

Villeneuve, 115 ; pursuit of, 130-146 

letter on action with Calder, 145 

prisoner, 159 
Vimiera, battle of, 197-303 
la Virginie, 82 
Vixen, 284 
Volunteers, 15, 21 

Warren, Sir John, 207 

Waterloo, Battle of, 269 

Wellesley, Sir Arthur, 197, 199 (^see 

Wellington, Duke of, 232 

Whitworth, Lord, 238 

Williams, Sir Thomas, 21, 23 ; mar- 
riage, 42, 48, 53, 211 

Winchester, 235, 271-273 

Winchester, 275 

Young, Admiral, 227 
Zealous^ 45, 149, 228 


HER FRIENDS. By Constance Hill. With 
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*^^* No cotnplete Life of Vincenzo Foppa has ever been written : an omission which 
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detailed record of the last two years of the Reign of His Most 
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CESAR FRANCK : A Study. Translated from the 

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*#* There is no purer influence in modern music than that of Cesar Franck, for many 
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recognised as the legitimate successor of Bach and Beethoven. His inspiration " rooted in 
love and faith " has contributed in a remarkable degree to the regeneration of the tnusical 
art in France and elsewhere. The now famous ''^ Schola Cantorum" founded in Paris in 
1896, by A. Guilmant, Charles Bordes and Vincent dindy, is the direct outcome of his 
influence. Among the artists who were in some sort his disciples were Paul Dukas, 
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written with the devotion of a disciple and the authority of a master, leaves us with 
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Barres, Rene Bazin, Paul Bourget, Pierre de Coulevain, Anatole 
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THE SOUL OF A TURK. By Mrs. de Bunsen. 

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%* We hear of Moslem, '■^fanaticism " and Christian '''superstition" hut it is not easy 
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Gilchrist. Edited with an Introduction by W.Graham Robertson. 
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GEORGE MEREDITH : Some Characteristics. 

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of Caroline of Brunswick, Queen of England. From the Italian 
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MEN AND LETTERS. By Herbert Paul, m.p. 

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ROBERT BROWNING: Essays and Thoughts. 

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A LATER PEPYS. The Correspondence of Sir 

William Waller Pepys, Bart., Master in Chancery, 175 8-1 82 5, 
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RUDYARD KIPLING : a Criticism. By Richard 

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biography by Alice M. Diehl, Novelist, Writer, and Musician. 
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THE LIFE OF W. J. FOX, Public Teacher and 

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OTIA : Essays. By Armine Thomas Kent. Crown 
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TERRORS OF THE LAW : being the Portraits 

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